Monday, October 31, 2022

None of Us Is Irredeemably Bad: The Day Will Come When Mankind Will Realize the Futility of All Differences, Discriminations and Divisions

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 31 October 2022 Following is a true Sufi episode, not a story or parable that happened centuries ago. I read it in my mother tongue Pahlavi and was moved to tears and continued to cry for two days: Malik, son of Dinar, was upset about the profligate behaviour of a youth who lived next door. For a long time he did nothing, hoping someone else would intervene. But when the youth's behaviour became intolerable, Malik went to him and insisted that he change his ways. The youth calmly replied he was a protege of the Sultan, so no one could prevent him from living as he wished. Said Malik, “I shall personally complain to the Sultan.” Said the youth, “That’ll be a waste of time because the Sultan will not change his mind." "I shall then denounce you to Allah, "Malik said. “Allah," said the youth, “is far too forgiving to condemn me." Malik went away defeated. But when the young man's reputation got so bad that there was a public outcry, Malik felt it was his duty to rebuke him. On the way to his house, he heard a Voice that said, "Do not touch my friend. He's under my protection." Malik was thrown into confusion and, when he got to the presence of the youth, didn't know what to say. Said the young man, "What have you come for now?" Said Malik, “I came to reprimand you. But on my way here, a Voice instructed me to let you be for, you're under His protection." The profligate seemed stunned. "Did he say I was His friend?" he asked. But by then Malik had already left. Years later Malik met the man in Mecca. He'd been so touched by the words of the Voice that he'd given up his possessions and become a wandering mendicant. "I've come here in search of my Friend,” he said to Malik, and died. St. Augustine wrote and wondered, “god, the friend of a sinner! A statement as dangerous as it's effective. I tried it on myself one day. I said, “god is far too forgiving to condemn me." And I suddenly heard the Good News-for the first time in my life. "At times, love can embarrass and make you look inward,” said Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Forgiving is far greater than punishing, because the former needs contemplation and introspection, whereas the latter is quick and impulsive. Way back in 1961, a 21-year-old young man raped a 48-year-old widow in Punjab's Maler Kotla district. The woman didn't lodge a complaint, yet somehow police had an inkling and arrested him. The victim went to the police station and pleaded with the officer-in-charge to release the boy as he was like her son! She never met that lad before, yet called her son, who raped her! Police released the young man. Mortally ashamed and utterly embarrassed, he went to that woman and asked her why on earth she saved him. "Because, I'm a woman and an eternal mother. I just can't take revenge......" It was a life-transforming experience for the boy. He took that woman to Toronto (Canada) and treated her just like his own mother till she died in 1996. He lost his biological mother when he was 5-yr-old. Never did she make him feel guilty for his heinous deed, committed at a young age. If simple human beings can reach such sublime levels, imagine the vastness of divine love. By the way, I've no intention to highlight the religion of that boy and woman. That'll be too cheap, but for the sake of reference, the boy was a Sikh and the woman was a Muslim. Qur’an states that Allah has the love of seventy mothers in His heart. That he's too forgiving to punish, can change even a hard-core transgressor. After all, none of us is irretrievably and irredeemably bad. Total transformation is possible at any age and stage. Have you ever thought, why do we require police, law and judiciary? Aren't all these, but punishing agencies? And why do we require the Army and its zombies like soldiers to kill the opponents without any personal enmity? Will an evolved human society ever require the Army with their weapons of mass destruction? The very thing sounds so damn stupid. I may sound too utopian but mark my words, a day will come when the world will be one and mankind will realize the futility of all differences, discriminations and divisions. Only Love will prevail. My coevals may not witness this, but the posterity after many centuries, nay millennia, will vouch for my (outlandish) dream. Lastly, readers may question as to have I changed from being an apatheist to becoming a believer as I'm talking of divine love? No, I've not changed. Nor will I ever change. Using god's love is a metaphor for the universal power of love and compassion which this beleaguered world wants so urgently at the moment. ---- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Did Muhammad Marry Ayesha When She Was A Child? New Research Casts Doubt About This Islamic Narration

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam 29 October 2022 Many Reformist Muslims Develop Cold Feet When They Are Asked To Evaluate Islamic Scriptures From A Source Critical Perspective Main Points 1. Hadis narrations say that Prophet Muhammad married Ayesha when she was six and consummated the marriage when she was nine 2. According to the findings of Joshua Little, an Oxford University researcher, this Hadis was fabricated in Iraq during the 8th century 3. The earliest Muslim sources do not mention the age of Ayesha at all 4. The reason for this fabricated Hadis was purely political and should be located within the sectarian fight between Shias and Sunnis at that time ------- According to many narrations within the corpus of Hadis, the Prophet Muhmmad is said to have married his wife Ayesha when she was of six years and consummated the marriage when she turned nine. There are other narrations, which give different years for the consummation but it must be said that there is orthodox consensus over the figures of six and nine years. For the detractors of Islam, this has become a weapon that they wield against the Islamic Prophet, and raise questions about his character and morality. This criticism is largely a-historical as the attempt is to project the current morality onto the cultural landscape of seventh century Arabia. Notions of age at marriage etc were very different back then and this was not specific to Arabia but such practices existed on many other parts of the world too. In any case, talking about the past is rarely to understand it; rather the attempt is to denigrate present day Muslims by invoking the personal life of the Prophet. We recently saw how it was deployed by the former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and what happened subsequently. But the Muslims also haven’t helped the situation. The mainstream Islamic theology regards the life of Muhammad as an ideal; one which should be emulated by Muslims for all times to come. It is this idealistic construction of the Prophet and their refusal to contextualize the life and times in which he operated which has made them defenceless in the face of such an assault. After all, what Nupur Sharma said was not her imagination; it is all written down in our own collection of Hadis! And the Hadis within the Muslim theology is considered only second in importance to the Quran. In fact, in many cases it is the Hadis which sheds light on the Quran rather than vice versa. Although the Prophet, on his part, reminds followers that he is just a man, Muslims have exalted him to such a level that it has become a religious merit in following whatever he did. Since we do not get much knowledge about the character and personality of Muhammad from the Quran, the Hadis came into the picture wherein we get minute details of who the Prophet was and what he did. Idealizing the prophet therefore is basically contingent on the belief that the Hadis narrations are all true. Once you start doubting the authenticity of the Hadis, questions about who the Prophet really was and how we know about him, will emerge as a natural corollary. A new research by Joshua Little (Oxford University) shows how that the oft-cited Hadis regarding the age of marriage and consummation of Ayesha to the Prophet may not be true. Sifting through various reports, Little concludes that this Hadis was fabricated by a narrator called Hisham ibn Urwa. Little argues that this narrator-Ibn Urwa- was considered unreliable even according to traditionalist criterion. He was accused of ‘senility’ and of tadlis, which means that he deliberately did not mention a weak link in the transmission of the Hadis. Moreover, he lived in the 8th century which is almost 150 years after the death of the Prophet. What is more interesting is that he recalled this Hadis after he had relocated to Iraq from Medina. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Also Read: The Controversy around Hazrat Ayesha's Marriage with Prophet Mohammad: A Deep Study of Hadith Literature and Historical Accounts Suggests She Was 14 When Engaged and Almost 18 When She Got Married ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Little argues that the reason for such fabrication lies in the sectarian milieu of Iraq which was torn between Shia and Sunni epistemologies. Both these sects, according to him, were trying to show their authenticity by parading their proximity and closeness to the Prophet. For the Shia, it was Ali not simply because he was the cousin and son in law of the Prophet but also because he was in contact with the Prophet since childhood as he practically lived in the same house. The Sunnis, on the other hand traced this closeness through Abu Bakar, whom they constructed as one of the closest companions of the Prophet. By placing his daughter Ayesha, still a minor, within the household of the Prophet, they were simply trying to advertise the Sunni claim to be the true followers of Muhammad, and consequently, the true inheritors of the caliphal mantle. More importantly, Little shows that the earliest legal texts, composed in Medina, like Malik’s al- Muwatta, does not cite this Hadis, although the narrator Ibn Urwa is cited in other contexts. This does not mean that Imam Malik rejected the Hadis; but simply that it was not in circulation in Medina at that time. If it was in circulation, it must have been cited giving its legal importance and ramification for the early Muslim society. Even Ibn Ishaq, the first biographer of the Prophet does not mention the age of Ayesha. But this detail gets added later by Ibn Hisham, in the 9th century. This absence of age of Ayesha in the very early Islamic texts leads Little to conclude that this particular Hadis is clearly an 8th century fabrication; invented in the specific political context of Iraq and back projected onto the story of Muhammad. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Also Read: In Defence Of The Prophet's Marriage With Hazrat Ayesha Even If She Was A Minor, According To A Hadees Report Narrated By A Single Person, That Too A Senile Old Man ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Reformist Muslims have already been arguing that there must be some mistake in Hadis which puts the age of marriage of Ayesha at 6. More recently, the famous Alim Javed Ahmad Ghamdi, has also cast doubt about the authenticity of this Hadis. So, is this a vindication of what reformist Muslims have been arguing all through? It might look like that but then many reformist Muslims themselves develop cold feet when they are asked to evaluate Islamic scriptures from a source critical perspective. If the Hadis collections are scrutinized using the modern methods of inquiry, a majority of them would have to be discarded. Memory is a tricky ground. It is simply too much of a miracle that narrations could be traced to the Prophet and his companions after they were first recorded a century after this death. But more importantly, we need to think not just about the Prophet’s marriage to Ayesha but his entire personality and how we know about him. It is not the Quran which tells us about the Prophet; it is the Hadis. If we start considering it as unreliable, how do we even begin to appreciate the basics of Islam? ----- A regular contributor to, Arshad Alam is a writer and researcher on Islam and Muslims in South Asia. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

How Can Muslims Revert To The Quran, Rejecting Sectarian Literature And Learning True Islamic Teachings About Subjects Like Blasphemy, Apostasy, Veils For Women, Punishment For Adultery, Sectarianism, Etc?

Every Sect Has Its Own Exegesis Of The Quran Main Points: 1. The Quran does not prescribe death sentence for blasphemy. 2. The Quran does not prescribe death or any punishment for apostasy. 3. The Quran does not prescribe full covering burqa for women. 4. The Quran does not prescribe death sentence for adultery. 5. The Quran condemns sectarian groupings. ------ By New Age Islam Staff Writer 29 October 2022 The holy Quran is the primary book of social, legal and religious guidance for Muslims. The hadiths are the practical demonstrations or the explanations of the injunctions or principles of the Quran. After the prophet's demise, religious scholars, exegetes and translators wrote commentaries, exegeses and explanations of the Quran according to their individual understanding of the Quran. Gradually a large volume of exegeses came into existence. Each exegesis was written from a particular point of view and sectarian belief. And because of that many contradictory ideas and beliefs spread among the Muslims. Importantly, with the passage of time, extremist views instead of moderate views gained more prominence and acceptance despite the fact that the world was scientifically advancing and cultural co-existence was becoming a need for all the religious communities. Gradually, the Tafseers (exegeses) and compilation of jurisprudential laws gained so much currency that Muslims fell far away from the original teachings of the Quran. In fact, jurisprudence became the primary source of law for Muslims and the Quran was relegated to the corner. Moreover, every sect had its own jurisprudence and set of laws. In every dispute, instead of consulting the Quran, the books of fatwa written by some Islamic scholar of a particular was consulted. The Quran which was a binding force was ignored because the followers of different sects did not want to come on a common platform due to their supremacist or exclusivist beliefs and ideas. On and off, religious organisations and Islamic scholars stress on the need to come back to the Quran because it is the only solution for the schism and ideological clashes among Muslims. The Quran has laid down very simple way of life and its belief system is also very simple. So when Muslims will follow the path showed and prescribed by the Quran, they will face no hurdles in the observance of social and communal duties. God also asks Muslims to follow the Quran in all their affairs. "Warn with this Quran those who are awed by the prospect of being gathered before their Lord --- when they will have no protector or intercessor besides Him --- so perhaps they will be mindful of Him."(An'am:70) "And leave those who take this faith of Islam as mere play and amusement and are deluded by their worldly life, yet remind them by this Quran, so no one should be ruined by their misdeeds."(An'am:70) Therefore, the Muslims are enjoined to warn and teach people both Muslims and non-Muslims with the Quran not with books written by sectarian Ulema. And so the Muslims will do well to revert to the Quran for guidance in all matters relating to their family and society. But is reverting to the Quran so easy and simple? Even if the Muslims decide to revert to the Quran, they will depend on the explanations and interpretations produced by exegetes. The exegetes have written opposite and contradictory explanations of verses and Quranic terms. One exegete says that Quran prescribes Khilafat as the only form of government while the other claims that democracy is compatible with Islam and presents the verse Amruhum Shura Baynahum in its support. One religious group says that secularism is compatible with Islam while the other religious group says secularism is akin to atheism and Kufr. Those groups and Islamic organisations who give a call to revert to the Quran, therefore, do not have a clear idea of what they mean by that. The Quran does not prescribe any punishment for blasphemy. Will they abandon the slogan 'Sar Tan Se Juda'? The Quran does not prescribe any punishment for apostasy. Will they leave apostates free? The Quran does not prescribe full covering burqa for women. Will they not push for it in schools, colleges and offices and allow their women activists and members to attend meetings without burqa? The Quran prescribes only one hundred lashes and not stoning for adultery. Will they not insist on stoning of adulterers? And above all, the Quran outrightly rejects sectarianism and groupism in Islam. Will they call for the dissolution of all sects. In fact, they should achieve or work for this first because the Quran rejects sectarianism and groupism. The problem with Muslims is that when a sect or ideological group gives a call to revert to the Quran, it actually gives a call to revert to their exegesis or interpretation of the Quran. The complication starts when Muslims start explaining and interpreting the Quranic verses from a particular sectarian angle. And phase by phase the interpretation moves towards one stage of extremism to another stage and a stage comes where the line between mainstream explanation and terrorism gets blurred. The explanations for blasphemy moves from death punishment to non- Muslims to death punishment to even Muslims. For this, if they do not find a verse in the Quran prescribing punishment for blasphemy, they will quote verses that prescribe punishment or death sentence for any act of Kufr giving the argument that blasphemy is also an act of Kufr. This way the verses of the holy Quran are manipulated. How then reverting to the Quran help Muslims with the persistence of this kind of attitude? Therefore, reverting back to the Quran, if possible, would have been the most revolutionary development in the Muslim world as the Muslims would have returned to the good old days of inner piety and peaceful co-existence when terrorism and religious extremism had not emerged. But the bitter truth is that it is not possible due to the sectarian nature of the Muslim society. It is only a rhetoric of certain groups to expand their own ideological base among the Muslims. 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‘Those Who Go Berserk In The Name Of Protecting The Prophet’s Honour Are False Claimants Of Being Ashiqaan-E-Rasool (Lovers Of The Prophet); Actually They Are Themselves Blasphemers Of The Prophet’: New Age Islam Columnist Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi At The IICC Meelad Celebration

New Age Islam Regular Columnist, Mr. Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi Said That Peace-Building Was The Cornerstone Of The Entire Prophetic Mission. Therefore, Those Who Get Swayed By Extremist Frenzies And Go Berserk In The Name Of Protecting Of Honour Of The Holy Prophet Are False Claimants Of Being The Holy Prophet’s Lovers (Ashiqaan-E-Rasool) Actually, They Are Themselves Blasphemers Of The Prophet And Islam. Main Points: 1. The Delhi-based India Islamic Cultural Centre celebrates all Indian festivals of various faith traditions including Eid, Merry Christmas, Holi and Diwali in order to promote the country’s composite culture. 2. On the last day of Rabiul Awwal it organized its annual Milad-un-Nabi Celebration inviting India’s noted Islamic scholars who spoke on various aspects of the holy Prophet’s life and legacy. 3. Chief Guest Mr. Iqbal Singh Lalpura, Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities said that the true tribute to the holy Prophet (pbuh) would be to put his beautiful teachings and traditions into practice. 4. The Prophet’s life and teachings have much to offer to us to live in peace and harmony and end the growing religious discord and communal conflict in the country”, he said. 5. From this Miladun Nabi Celebration at India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC), Mr. Dehlvi said, a crucial message must percolate down to the community; that is, ------ By New Age Islam Staff Writer 29 October 2022 The Delhi-based India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC) at Lodhi Road New Delhi is the prestigious institution of Indian Muslim community which has been actively working for national integration and communal harmony since its inception. In order to promote the country’s composite culture, the IICC celebrates the Indian festivals of all faith traditions including Eid, Merry Christmas, Holi and Diwali. The centre is also widely known also working on social and educational reform at different level by organizing. In this current month of Birth of Prophet Mohammed Peace be upon him we are going to celebrate his birth anniversary to spread the message of peace, brotherhood, and harmony. As a part of its sustained efforts towards promoting mutual understanding and amity among different communities and restoring communal harmony, the IICC organizes conferences, seminars and workshops throughout the years on different occasions. Every year in the month of Rabiul Awwal—the sacred Islamic month of Prophet Muhammad’s birth anniversary—the IICC celebrates the Meelad, the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) to highlight the brightest sides of his life as Messenger of Peace, Brotherhood and Humanity. This year, on the last day of Rabiul Awwal on October 27, the IICC organized its regular annual Milad-un-Nabi Celebration. India’s noted Islamic scholars including Professor Emeritus in Islamic Studies, Akhtarul Wasey, Comparative Religion Scholar M. H. Qureshi, a retired professor from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Maulana Muhibbulla Nadwi (Imam of Jama Masjid Parliament Street, New Delhi) and Mr. Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, Indo-Islamic scholar and regular columnist at New Age Islam spoke on various aspects of the holy Prophet’s life and legacy in this Meelad program. Presided by the President of India Islamic Cultural Centre Mr. Sirajuddin Qureshi, the Chief Guest of this Meelad event was the chairman of the National Commission for Minorities and former IPS officer, Mr. Iqbal Singh Lalpura. He said that the true tribute to the holy Prophet (pbuh) would be to put his beautiful teachings and traditions into practice. “But in this day and age, it is too difficult to be a true Muslim, because the prophetic teachings require a Muslim to exercise utmost patience, restraint and forbearance. To be a true follower of the Prophet (pbuh) is easier said than done”, he said. Mr. Lalpura also averred that the nation has been built by the freedom fighters and great leaders of all communities, including the minorities of India. “Our elders have rendered great contributions to the liberation, national integration and empowerment of our country. This country, in which religious minorities including the Muslims, Christians and Sikhs have all lived peacefully for centuries, does not belong to any single community”, he said. Quoting extensively from the central scripture of Sikhism—Guru Granth Sahib—Mr. Lalpura stressed the universal values of Islam and Sikhism and the striking similarities between the two faith traditions. “I, as a Sikh, strongly believe that the Prophet of Islam has greatly inspired our spiritual masters and our predecessors. The Prophet’s life and teachings have much to offer to us to live in peace and harmony and end the growing religious discord and communal conflict in the country”, he concluded. Prof. Akhtarul Wasey shed light on the role of the Prophet’s wives in setting examples for the empowerment of women. “While Hazrat Khadija r.a. was a glaring example of economic empowerment for Muslim women, Hazrat Aisha r.a. emerged as the greatest educator, teacher, and narrator of hadith traditions. Similarly, Hazrat Umm-e-Salma was an icon of political empowerment of women in Islam and almost all the Sahabiyaat i.e., female companions of the holy Prophet (pbuh) serve as models of spiritual empowerment for our sisters and daughters today”, he stated. Prof. M. H. Qureshi dwelt on the scriptural similarities between Islam and Hinduism in terms of their essential message of Monotheism (Tawheed) and the universal and egalitarian values embedded in their texts. He quoted from both the Qur’an and Vedas to substantiate his key point that Muslims and non-Muslims need to come together to develop a deep understanding of each other’s religious precepts, and practices. If they do so, a lot of misconceptions and prejudices will vanish from their minds, he asserted. “Unity, equality and brotherhood of mankind are the essential messages of Islam and all other religions in India that we need to re-rediscover and promulgate in Indian society to preserve our shared heritage and protect the common good”, he said. Mr. Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, one of the guest speakers in this program, spoke on the “Prophetic Mission and Mysticism” drawing attention to the moral, ethical and spiritual dimensions of the holy Prophet’s life. He highlighted the Prophet’s noble personality traits in both pre-prophethood and post-prophethood periods and his pursuits for peace in both Mecaan and Medinite phases, calling them the brightest sides of the Prophetic Persona that need to be revived and rejuvenated on every occasion of Milad-un-Nabi. Quoting from the Sirah literature, he stated: “From the Prophet’s key role in the formation of Hilf-ul-Fudul—an alliance for peace and justice through a collective action which was created by the Meccans in 590 AD —to the Peace Treaty of Hudaibiyyah (Sulh-e-Hudaubiyyah), and from the enactment of Misaq-e-Madina or Covenant of Madina, which was written as a constitution or charter of human rights, to the Conquest of Mecca (Fath-e-Makkah, the holy Prophet emerged as Peace-Maker for mankind”. The best part of the Prophetic Mission was that holy Prophet reformed and civilized a Bedouin society which was deeply steeped in the pre-Islamic Jahiliyyah. He urged them to shun all forms of violence, retaliation, and vengeance. A true Muslim in the sight of the holy Prophet is the one from whose hands and tongue all other people are safe, Mr. Dehlvi explained. From this Miladun Nabi Celebration at India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC), Mr. Dehlvi said, a crucial message must percolate down to the community; that is, peace-building was the cornerstone of the entire Prophetic mission. Therefore, those who get swayed by extremist frenzies and radical rhetoric in the name of protecting of honour of the holy Prophet are the false claimants of being the holy Prophet’s lovers (Ashiqaan-e-Rasool). Today, if someone goes berserk and beheads a human being, shouting the extremist slogan of “Sar Tan Se Juda” (separating head from body is the only answer to the insults against the holy Prophet), he is the biggest blasphemer who brings disrepute to the holy Prophet (s.a.w) and his noble character. Mr. Dehlvi continued: On the last day of Rabi-ul-Awwal Sharif, we should pay heed to this grim situation and take cognizance of the true Prophetic character. There is no way to defend the dignity and sanctity of the holy prophet by shouting these nefarious and notorious slogans. The truest love for the holy Prophet is to walk in his footsteps, to excel in his noble character, to spread peace, love and harmony and serve the society and humanity at large. I believe every celebration of Milad-un-Nabi in India should mark the holy Prophet's quest for peace, universal brotherhood, social cohesion, national integration, and deep compassion, affection, and mercy for mankind. Other guest panellists and participants in this event included the famed Egyptian scholar on Urdu language and literature, Dr. Walaa Jamal El Esseily who recited her Urdu poetry in praise of the Prophet (pbuh), well-known Urdu poet and Nashed recite, Mr. Mateen Amrohavi and Maulana Muhibullah Nadvi, and Mr. Abrar Ahmed IRS (retired) Secretary. IICC. The welcoming address was delivered by Mr Abu Zar Hussain Khan and the program was moderated by Dr. Hafzur Rahman, noted Islamic scholar and founder-president of Sufi Peace Foundation of India. It came to an end with Durood & Salam and Vote of Thanks by Mr. S. M. Khan Vice President IICC. 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

Islam-Supremacism: Muslims Must Shed Their Toffee-Nosed Attitude Towards Other Religions

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 29 October 2022 " Show me a Muslim who considers all other religions as genuinely equal and treats followers of other faiths the way he treats his Muslim brethren, I'm ready to re-examine and even re-embrace Islam that I left many moons ago." -My Professor of Mysticism and Persian, Dr Zaifa Ashraf, who turned her back on Islam at the age of 17 and never accepted any other man-made religion/s " Muslims often believe that their ISLAM is the truest faith. Other faiths could only be true in comparison but will remain inferior to Islam." Jacques Waardenburg, Muslim Perceptions of Other Religions: A Historical Survey (OUP, 1999) I fully agree with a reader, Aditya, that the term non-Muslim is worse than the word Kafir (infidel). It smacks of outright condescension. One seemingly level-headed reader opines that we ( Momins) should call non-believers, non-Muslims. What a toffee-nosed attitude! In other words, he does suggest that who doesn't believe in Islam is a non-believer, as if one's belief begins and ends with Islam and it's the be-all and end-all for humanity. If an individual has no faith in Islam, can't he or she have faith/belief in some other religion? Will that make him/her a non-believer? This obstinate approach to one's religion is venomous for mankind. That's why, Muslims across the world are uniformly disliked by the followers of other faiths. Their (Muslims) pontification and deep-down misunderstanding that it's the ONLY true faith and other religions are fake and false is Islam's undoing. Salman Rushdie aptly said in an interview that, to Muslims, their Islam is the Moon and others' faiths are mere Moonshine. So very true! A Muslim might appear to be liberal and advanced in thinking, but somewhere he or she will entertain the psychic and pathological misconception of Islamic supremacy. This attitude needs a revamp if Islam is to live in a peaceful coexistence with other faiths and their followers. But the million-dollar question is, does Islam believe in the lofty idea and ideals of coexistence? It doesn't. ---- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Friday, October 28, 2022

What Does the Uttar Pradesh Madrasa Survey Want to Achieve?

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam 28 October 2022 There Seems To No Clear-Cut Strategy With Regard To These Institutions Main Points: 1. So far, there are reports of 7000 unrecognized madrasas in UP 2. There are ideological and bureaucratic reasons for such a high number 3. The more important question is whether there is any larger objective behind such a survey 4. The government says it wants to mainstream madrasas but does not spell out what it means by mainstreaming 5. This looks like another exercise in ad hocism which will only benefit the politics of religious polarization ------ Few weeks back, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister ordered that all madrasas in the state be surveyed. The district magistrate was made in charge of the survey, assisted by officials of minority and education departments. If news reports are to go by, that survey is now over and it appears that the data will be made available sometime in November. The media reported, sensationally of course, that there were about 7000 unrecognized madrasas in Uttar Pradesh. They reported the matter as if all these 7000 institutions were running illegally, although this is far from truth. In terms of administrative control and authority, there are different kinds of madrasas all over India. Being unrecognized in this case simply means that these madrasas were not registered with the madrasa board of Uttar Pradesh, although they must be a registered entity. Being an unrecognized madrasa simply means that it does not get perks from the state, such as salary of science/math teachers, infrastructural grants etc. Further, it means that it’s syllabus need not be vetted by the state government; that they are free to teach subjects of their own liking and teach them the way they want it. In short, there is no governmental oversight in these madrasas. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Also Read: Madrasa Education is a Clear Violation of the Human Rights of Children: Sultan Shahin asks UNHRC to make Muslim Countries Stick to their Pious Declarations ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Seven thousand is a large number. There can be many reasons why so many madrasas are unregistered/unrecognized. Since 2011, when Mayawati was the chief minister, the UP madrasa board stopped giving recognition to new madrasas. The same policy was continued till 2017 during the reign of Akhilesh Yadav. It is very natural therefore that all madrasas in the state which have been established since 2011 would be unrecognized. Moreover, anecdotal evidence suggests that ever since the Yogi government came to power, there has been a certain unease within the madrasa establishment regarding its intention. As a result of which they themselves do not want any recognition from the state whatsoever. File Photo ----- But there is an ideological reason as well which is explained in the foundational statement of Deoband Madrasa. One of the principles of that madrasa was that the institution should desist from taking any financial or other grant from the government. The reason is that since madrasa is primarily for the purpose of imparting religious education; it is will be blameworthy to take money from any non-Islamic source. Deoband avoided not just the colonial source but also the post-Independence Indian source. There are many madrasas which follow the Deoband model, particularly in Western UP, and hence they would be ideologically wary of getting anywhere near the state. A more pragmatic reason though it that any assistance from the government also brings in its wake supervision and auditing. Since most madrasas are run as private fiefdoms, no one wants to cede their control and authority to the state. The real question is not how many madrasas are unrecognized but what does the government intend to do with them. Ostensibly, the purpose is to elevate the level of education within these madrasas. Danish Azad Ansari, the lone Muslim minister in the UP cabinet is on record to say that the intention is to mainstream madrasas, bring them on par with government schools. He is probably right that Muslims are overreacting regarding the intent of the present government. One look at the questions in the survey is sufficient to tell us that the government is basically interested in collecting data on various facets of these madrasas, including of course their source of funding. No government can be called out simply because it asks such questions from any religious or educational institution. Muslims, simply because of being citizens of this country, should have no qualms in providing this information to the designated authority. However, whether the madrasas themselves maintain this information is an open question as most of them run on community donations with very little transparency in terms of record keeping. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Also Read: Evolution of Hadith Sciences and Need for Major Paradigm Shift in Role of Hadith Corpus and Scope of Madrasa Education ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ But one is not too sure if the government has put its mind as to how it wants to mainstream these madrasas. What does this mainstreaming mean in this context? Does it mean overhauling the curriculum of these madrasas by including modern subjects? Is the government willing to commit such resources for madrasa education, given the fact that it revels in displaying anti-minority attitudes? Also, how will this be any different from the modernization programme run by the previous Congress government? And if there is no difference between the two, then what objective will this madrasa survey serve? Moreover, have they thought how the Muslim community will react to it and how are they going to tackle this reaction? The Congress government floated a proposal to set up an All India Madrasa Board which would have solved problems of recognition. However, the reaction from the Ulama was so severe that the proposal was hurriedly shelved. After all, most of these madrasas are specifically designed to teach a sectarian curriculum and have no interest in teaching modern sciences. How does the government propose to bring together the warring factions of Deobandis and Barelvis? It is questions like these which makes one think whether the government has really thought about the issue or is just another political gimmick? But let us suppose that everyone agrees on the mainstreaming of madrasas. Then what? Are we going to teach students Islamic and secular subjects at the same time? Does this even make any pedagogic sense? The Quran classes will tell them that the sun goes down in a dirty pond every evening while their science classes will tell them something else. How will they maintain the distinction between theology and history? This will perhaps produce a model as per the wishes of our prime minister: Quran in one hand and computer in another. But isn’t that precisely the problem? The foremost example of this marriage of Quran and computer was Osama bin Laden; do we want our children to emulate him? Or should we be giving them an education which motivates them to pursue higher learning in sciences and art without being in the least encumbered by religious dogmas? ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Also Read: RESTRUCTURING MADRASA EDUCATION: Muslim Opponents of India’s 'Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act' are Enemies of Indian Muslims ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ The less said about the Muslim response, the better it is. Mr. Owaisi has called this survey mini- NRC, simply because some questions are being asked from madrasas. As if these institutions have their own sovereignty and are above the law of the land. Unfortunately, Muslims do not see the harm that comes from madrasa education; if at all it can be called as an education. What good can come out of any system whose children are made to learn that the earth is flat. What good can come out of a system which does not give its children a sense of the nation and world? Certainly, people like Mr. Owaisi can earn their law degrees in the United Kingdom but who cares for the poor Muslims studying in madrasas. Let them just be used for furthering the political careers of Muslim leaders. ---- A regular contributor to, Arshad Alam is a writer and researcher on Islam and Muslims in South Asia. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Expression of Reverence for Saints is not Shirk (Associating Others with God)

By S. Arshad, New Age Islam 28 October 2022 Symbols of God Must Be Revered Main Points: 1. Venerating symbols of God is an expression of piety. 2. Sacrificial animals are one of the symbols of God. 3. Respecting symbols of God is not shirk. 4. There may be another symbols of God. ----- There is much debate among the Islamic scholars over what is Shirk and what does not constitute Shirk. Shirk (associating partners with God) is the greatest sin according to the Quran. The holy Quran has clearly stated what constitutes Shirk. It states that worshipping any other deity along with God is shirk. Therefore, idol worship is shirk. Then worshipping natural objects like the sun, the moon, trees, snakes, rivers as gods along with the Supreme God is also shirk. Again worshipping saints and priests as God also constitutes shirk. Quran warns against acts of shirk in harsh words: "And one who associated partners with Allah was misled and fell far away."(Al Nisa: 116) "And they associate djinns with God though He has created them and they attribute sons and daughters among djinns with God out of ignorance."(Al Anam: 100) "They have accepted their priests and saints and Jesus son of Mary as their God and they had been enjoined to worship only one God, there is no one to be worshipped except Him. He is free from what they associate with Him."(Taubah: 31) "Indeed God does not forgive the one who associates partner with Him and forgives sins lesser than it of anyone He wills and whoever associates partner with Him invites grave torment."(Al Nisa: 48) In light of these verses on shirk, Ulema and exegetes have formed a very rigid concept of shirk. This has divided the Muslims in two sects. The Quranic concept of shirk is that if a Muslim worships a human being or a natural object attributing powers to him or it and turns to him or it for help and favours, he commits shirk. The polytheists of Makkah or Arab believed in Allah but also worshipped deities or idols as intercessors. Therefore, believing in the godly powers of a non -God is shirk. But showing reverence to symbols of God is not shirk but in fact it is described as piety of the heart by the Quran. Here are the verses of the Quran on the issue. "Be upright in devotion to Allah, associating none with Him in worship. For whoever associates others with Allah is like someone who has falken from the sky and is either snatched away by birds or swept by the wind to a remote place. That is so. And whoever honours the symbols of Allah, it is certainly out of the piety of the heart."(Hajj: 31-32) In the verse 31, the Quran states what shirk is. And in the next verses it states that honouring or expressing reverence to the symbols of God (Sha’airallah) is piety of the heart (not shirk). That the Quran states that expressing reverence to symbols of God is piety of the heart immediately after describing shirk indicates that the Quran draws a line between shirk and reverence. Expressing reverence to symbols of God is piety of the heart and not shirk. Again, in verse 36 of surah Hajj, the Quran says that sacrificial animals are one of the symbols of God. "We have sacrificial camels and cattle among the symbols of Allah in which there is much good for you". (Hajj: 36) Therefore, we can infer that Hajar-e-Aswad, mosques, religious flags, religious symbols, the holy Quran, religious books, rosary, prayer mat, skull cap and other similar symbols of religious importance are symbols of God. Kissing Hajar-e-Aswad is not considered shirk. Among the Muslims there is one section which is very cautious in expressing reverence to religious symbols for the fear that it may be considered shirk while the other section is very liberal in this regard. In fact both the sect go overboard in expressing reverence and in observing caution. The former does not even show reverence to the symbols of God which is, actualy enjoined by the Quran and the latter shows exaggeration in showing reverence to the symbols of God coming near the boundaries of shirk. The Quran allows expression of reverence rather enjoins on i as piety of the heart. That is, if a believer does not show reverence to the symbols of God, he may be considered not showing piety. On the other hand, if the believer shows undue reverence to the symbols of God and attributes godly powers to them, he may come near shirk. Therefore, it is clear from the Quranic verses that worshipping and expressing reverence are not the same and the believers should have a balanced concept of the two ideas. Islam is a moderate path. ----- S. Arshad 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

Nothing Is More Powerful Than an Idea Whose Time Has Come

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 28 October 2022 Inscribed on the wall of my tiny pad are two well-nigh similar thoughts in Urdu and French, “Hazaar Barq Gire Laakh Aandhiyaan Utthein / Woh Phool Khil Ke Rahenge Jo Khilne Wale Hain “(Sahir Ludhianvi) And “There’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come “(Victor Hugo). Both the thoughts have always inspired me and whenever I feel down in the dumps, I look at them and the very next moment, my life bounces back. Human spirit is indomitable. It can be destroyed but cannot be defeated. Remember, life is an idea in a fluid and amorphous state. The moment we construct and concretise it, we realize its true potential. My Professor friend at Emory University in the US, mailed me that despite losing one eye and hand, the irrepressible Salman Rushdie is determined to write yet another book and continue to wage his crusade against fanaticism. This is the crux of existence: never to give up. When a Muslim fanatic stabbed me to kill but ended up cutting the tip of my middle finger, I realized that my time didn't come and whatever little is left, I must dedicate that to fighting against fanaticism of not just Islam but of all man-made rogue and rustic faiths. During the First World War, a promising cricketer lost one of his hands. Instead of crying over that and sulking that he'd never be able to play cricket and be out of the game forever, he decided to become an umpire and went on to become one of the greatest and most upright cricket umpires in the history of the game. He was the English umpire Frank Chester. Man is forever on test but every test carries a lesson in its womb because Nature designs every seemingly dampening episode or incident as a litmus test to assess an individual's gritty and dour approach to life. A so-called mishap is a coded message. We need to decode it to realize that it's actually a manna from heaven; a gift from the Universe. So, what's destined to happen will happen sooner or later. And it'll happen for a reason and purpose because Nothing is wasted, nothing is in vain/ The seas roll over but the rocks remain. ----- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Sir Syed Promoted Scientific Temperament and Interfaith Dialogue

By S. Arshad, New Age Islam 27 October 2022 He Promoted Study of Comparative Religion Main Points: 1. Sir Syed was s rationalist. 2. He promoted scientific temperament among Muslims. 3. He founded Aligarh Muslim University. 4. He established scientific society. 5. He wrote the exegesis of Quran and Bible. ------ Sir Syed Ahmad Khan ------ One of the greatest personalities India produced in the 19th century was Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. He had acquired both Islamic and western education and influenced the thought of the contemporary Muslims in a big way. His greatest contribution is the establishment of Aligarh Muslim University in 1877. Sir Syed had seen the failure of the 1857 revolution led by the Muslims and participated largely by Ulema. He also watched the subsequent persecution of Muslims by the British government. He therefore, decided to work for the educational and scientific progress of the Muslims. He was of the view that Muslims could come out of the miserable condition only with the help of modern and scientific education. He adopted a policy of establishing good relationship with British government and worked towards reducing the hatred of the British government towards the Muslims. He had realised that driving out the British was now not possible and so the only way forward was to have good relationship with them and take advantage of the services and resources of the government to make progress. --------------------------------- Also Read: Moving Beyond Sir Syed --------------------------------- He himself joined the administrative and judicial services. During this period, he also started educational movement among the Muslims. He wrote a number of books to promote modern education and scientific way of thinking among Muslims. He issued the magazine Tahzeeb ul Ekhlaque and founded an organisation named the Scientific Society. Sir Syed was a rationalist with an Islamic spirit. Though he favoured modern education and English language, he had deep faith in his religion Islam and reverence for the holy prophet pbuh. Since he had a correct understanding of religion of Islam and the Quran, he also had respect for Christianity and Judaism. Therefore, he also deeply studied the Bible, the Torah and other religious scriptures. He endeavoured to bridge the cultural and religious gap between the Muslims and the People of the Book. Therefore, he wrote the exegesis of the Bible and Torah which was published in three volumes 1862, 1865 and 1887. In this exegesis he also quoted verses from the Quran and hadiths corroborating the verses of the Bible. This helped in a comparative study of the Quran, Bible and Torah. Therefore, his exegesis is a rare book in Urdu which helped shed misconceptions of the Muslims and the Christians about each other. During his time and even today, Muslims had the view that many changes have occurred in the Bible. Sir Syed wrote that the Christian scholars have made many efforts to preserve the authenticity of the Bible. He even detailed those efforts in the exegesis. Therefore, he wrote the exegesis of the Bible not ith the purpose of proving the Christians wrong but to prove the fact that the Quran, the Bible and Torah were the parts of the chain of divine revelations and all the four books were equally respectable. He wrote in a letter: "Muslims have always considered the books of Christianity useless, absurd and a collection of false tales. And their views have got strength from illogical and imprudent arguments of some Christian priests. The result of these arguments was nothing except bias, acrimony and differences between the two communities." ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Remembering Sir Syed Ahmad Khan as a Proponent of Hindus and Muslims Being One Nation: His Religious Reform Is As Relevant As His Educational Reform ------------------------------------------------------------------------- As an exegete of the Quran, he removed the misconception about the verses on slave girls. Sir Syed was had a rational and logical way of thinking and so whenever the enemies of Islam made an attack on Islam through their writings, instead of issuing fatwas of death against him, he would write an academic reminder against them. This happened when Sir William Muir wrote a book Mahomet and Islam in which he made blasphemous remarks against Islam and the prophet, he wrote an argumentative book in defence oc Islam and thd prophet pbuh. This book cleared the doubts of the western world but of Indians about Islam and Muslims. Sir Syed had visited England in 1869 in connection with the admission of his sons in a college. During his stay there, he studied the political and educational system of England very closely and deeply. After returning home, he made up his mind to establish a modern college. In 1877 he laid the foundation stone of M.A.O. College which later became Aligarh Muslim University. The college imparted both modern and Islamic education but the religious section became apprehensive of the true intent of Sir Syed. They thought that Sir Syed had become a Christian and was actually promoting Christianity under the guise of promoting modern and scientific education. To remove their doubts, Sir Syed appealed to them supervise the religious education in the college. But they refused to do so. One Maulvi declined the appeal saying: "Since Shias also attend the school, we will not participate in this exercise." --------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Sir Syed Ahmad Khan: Man with a Mission --------------------------------------------------------------- The Ulema started a campaign against Sir Syed and his college. They called Sir Syed a kafir, a Dajjal and a Dahriya. Sir Syed's biographer Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali writes in his book Hayat-e-Jawaid: "One Maulvi Imdad Ali obtained fatwas of Kufr from 60 Ulema against him. One Maulvi Ali Bakhsh went to Makkah and obtained fatwas of Kufr against him from the muftis of the four sects of Islam. In their fatwas they had issued fatwa preventing financial assistance to and suggesting the demolition of the college." Magazines were published to counter the scientific and modern thoughts promoted by Tahzib ul Ekhlaque. Some of the magazines are Nurul Afaque from Kanpur, Nurul Anwar from Agra and Lauh-e-Mahfuz from Punjab. One businessman from Calcutta had even planned to kill Sir Syed but a Maulvi dissuaded him from doing so. Though some of his political thoughts cannot be accepted and defended because sometimes he sided with the British government and criticised the freedom fighters, the motive behind it was to act as a safety valve to save the Muslims from the wrath of the government. While criticising the Muslims, he would also subtly point out the repressive and injustice of the British government as the reasons behind the revolt and resentment among Indians, particularly Muslims. As is the policy of all great men, Sir Syed also ignored the contemporary political developments and fixed his eyes on his future goal. He made some compromises with the then government to achieve his goal. Today Sir Syed's farsightedness is being appreciated and praised as he achieved what he aspired and struggled for. ----- S. Arshad 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

Humans Suffer From 'She's Pretty, but Could Have Been Prettier Syndrome'

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 27 October 2022 Kisi Ko Paa Kar Bhi Aksar Ye Gumaan Hota Hai Ke Jaise Rah Gayee Ho Baaqi Koi Kami Phir Bhi (Despite having someone in life, something keeps gnawing at heart that there's still some void left) Insaan Ki Khwahishon Ki Koi Intihan Nahin Do Gaz Zameen Bhi Chahiye, Do Gaz Kafan Ke Baad -Kaifi Azmi (There’s no limit to our desires/ We ask for two yards of land besides the shroud even after death) Almost all humans suffer from ' She's pretty, but could have been prettier Syndrome.' -Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud A haughty passenger on a train was giving the dining car waiter his order. “For dessert, “he said, " I'll have tart and ice-cream." The waiter said they had no tarts. The man exploded. “What? No tarts? That's absurd. I'm one of the biggest customers this rail-board has. Each year I organize trips for thousands of tourists and I've hundreds of tons of freight transported on it. And when I myself travel on the line, I cannot get a simple thing like tarts! “I’ll take this up with the chairman himself." The chef called the waiter aside and said, “We can get him the tart at the next stop." Right after the next stop, the waiter was back again. “I’m happy to inform you, sir that our chef has worked on these tarts especially for you. He hopes, you'll like them. And, with them, we'd like to offer you this seventy-five year old brandy, compliments of the line." The passenger threw his napkin on the table, made a fist and shouted, “To hell with the tarts! I'd rather be angry!" How empty our lives would be if we had nothing to resent! To many people, constant resentment is the spice of life. It nourishes them! William Cowper wrote that, “The basic human nature is to fret and fume even if man gets everything at his disposal." Not to be satisfied is the basic human tendency: Naakhushi Mein Zindagi Jeete Rahiye. We always look for the most flimsy opportunities to resent. Most of us enjoy food at receptions, marriages and on several occasions. We gorge on the food, belch loudly with utmost satisfaction. But after returning home, we hasten to add, “Chhole Badhiya Bane Thay Par Namak Thoda Kam Tha " (Chhole were good, but a trifle banal) or Ice Cream Mein Ek Hi Flavour Tha or vanilla ice-cream was too cheap, whereas you had innumerable cups of that 'cheap' vanilla ice-cream! This is not just limited to food, but can be seen in our grudging and willy-nilly appreciation of people and things. We're never wholehearted in our admiration and somewhere leave a clause of not being happy. Even a poet like Kamaal Amrohi with a much wider range of sensibilities also wrote an otherwise exquisite Nazm for a forgettable film ' Shankar-Hussain ' (1977), “Kahin Ek Maasoom Nazuk-Si Ladki, Bahut Khoobsoorat MAGAR Saanwli-Si.." (There was a petite damsel, who was very pretty BUT had a dusky complexion). Here, the caveat MAGAR suggests that the damsel's beauty is not so important. But it was her twilight complexion that was some kind of a dampener; a crater on the moon's otherwise silken surface as seen from the earth. Resentment is everlasting. It's a never-leaving attribute. ‘It’s good but could have been better. ‘This attitude of unhappiness and incompleteness in everything always leaves us wanting for more. American poet and Nobel laureate Thomas Stearns Eliot found William Shakespeare's near-perfect tragedy ' Hamlet ' to be flawed. Where did he find a flaw in the Bard of Avon's legendary work is still unexplained. Jay Shankar Prasad's epic 'Kamayani ' is the quintessential work belonging to Chhayavaad genre of Hindi poetry and is ranked among the top 100 epics in the anthology of world literature, yet there're are people who argue relentlessly that it could have been written better. Urdu poet Yaas Yagana Changezi could never like Mirza Ghalib's poetry. Why did he dislike Ghalib and his poetry so much is still shrouded in mystery. Changezi himself was an excellent poet. Yet, he went on to tomahawk Ghalib's entire oeuvre till he (Changezi) breathed his last. Don't forget, this nagging unhappiness and a niggling sense of dissatisfaction can prove to be killjoys. ----- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

New Light on Soul or Spirit: An Ideological Challenge to Islam?

By S. Arshad, New Age Islam 26 October 2022 How Will Muslims Confront New Developments Regarding The Soul Or Spirit. Main Points: 1. The Quran says little about the soul or spirit. 2. New developments regarding the soul present an ideological challenge to Islam. 3. Past life experiences have become a reality. 4. Some people claim they remember their past life family. 5. In India a number of past life and rebirth cases have come to light. ------ A five year old girl belonging to a Hindi speaking Hindu family of Bikaner, Rajasthan in India speaks English in Californian accent. Her parents say they have never been to California and they do not see English programmes on the television. The girl claims her original home is in California where they own cows and camels. She also says she is a yoga teacher and performs some Yogasanas. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Islam and Mysticism: Is ‘Nafs’ Soul? (Part - 1) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A 14 year boy of Palwal near Delhi border claims he knows his past life and his past life family. In his previous birth, he had met with an accident and died when he was 35 years old. He was reborn in a family in a village 12 kilometres away from his village. When he was three years old, he started telling his parents that his original home was in another village and insisted them to take him to his original home. When he grew 5 years old, his parents took him to his home of the previous birth, he recognised his wife, four daughters, parents and his close friend of the previous birth who was now fifty years old. He told them some facts which only they knew. There was a very famous case of rebirth during Gandhi Ji’s time. A married woman of Lucknow had died after giving birth to her son after a Caesarean operation. After her death, her husband remarried. After some time, a girl child was born to a family of Delhi. When she was three years old, she started telling her parents that her original home was in Lucknow. Initially the parents ignored her claim but as she grew older she insisted her parents more regularly to take her to her original home. When she became 12 years old, she told her parents the address of her previous home and the personal details and name of her husband. The parents contacted the man in Lucknow and he confirmed that his first wife had indeed died after the birth of their first son. The man came from Lucknow and met the girl. She told the man some intimate truth to him which only the husband and wife knew. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Islam and Mysticism: Is ‘Ruh’ Soul? (Part 2) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- There are similar cases of rebirth which cannot be denied as the people are alive. One common feature of all these cases is that all these cases of rebirth are of persons who had died an unnatural death. If the persons, who were children when they started claiming rebirth, are believed, then our concept and belief about the soul and spirit will have to be reoriented and the scriptures need to be reinterpreted in the light of new developments regarding the soul. The recent developments (which are available on YouTube) do not prove the Quran wrong because the Quran has not divulged anything about the soul. And there must be some wisdom behind it. If the Quran had categorically and clearly said something about the soul, there would not have been any room for contradicting it for Muslims but since the Quran has kept it a closely guarded secret, it has kept the door for new research on the issue open. Once the people had asked thd prophet pbuh what the soul or spirit was. The revelation to the question was: "They ask you concerning the soul, say the soul is from the Amr of God and you have been given a little knowledge."(Bani Israel: 85) The verse can be interpreted as that God did not want to divulge the secrets about the soul because the people during that time had not a developed intellect to understand the depth of the soul and so the secret of the soul will be revealed any future. There are a number of examples of revelations of secrets many centuries after the revelation of particular verses. For example, the dead body of Pharaoh was discovered in the 19th century. Noah's Ark was discovered in the 20th century. There is a verse in the Quran which says that God reveals secrets of things in due course. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Islam and Mysticism: What Else Is Confused With Soul? (Part 3) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "The time for every news (information) is predetermined and you will know it soon."(Al Anam: 67) This verse indicates that the truth or secrets of many things are guarded by God and disclosed in a particular age according to His scheme of things. So the secrets of soul is gradually being disclosed gradually in the 21st century. Although the Quran does not reveal anything about the soul, some hadiths tell us that the soul hovers above the dead body after the death and goes with the funeral procession till the grave. He can hear and see the people assembled at his home and in the funeral procession. The boy of Palwal said that after his death, his soul sat on the Neem tree in his courtyard for 12 days. He could see his family members and relatives and would also try to talk to them but they did not see or hear him. After the ritual of Hawan was completed on the 12th day, he left his home and spend some days wandering in the wilderness. According to Reiki master N. K. Sharma, anyone can go to his past life and it is as easy as dreaming. He claims that more than 20 thousand people have experienced their past life and found out the root of the problems in their present life. How this is possible can be understood through the belief of Buddhism on this issue. According to Buddhism, man takes rebirth due to his Karma. His karma in this birth determines his condition in the next birth. Buddhism also says that the soul is not a separate entity in the body. It is not like water poured into a glass and then poured out keeping the glass in its previous condition. A man's living body is constituted of five elements: Physical body, feelings, ideation, mental structure and consciousness. All the deeds, aspirations, passions, memories and fears are kept stored up in his spirit. All these together make a new personality in his new birth. Death does not break the flow of memories of the previous birth. It only causes a temporary pause in the flow of consciousness. Therefore, the memories, aspirations and deeds of the previous lives remain stored up in the consciousness and lie supressed. In case of accidental deaths, the break of flow of consciousness is abrupt, that's why, the three people mentioned above remembered their past life. Their case also shows that the soul has a deep attachment to the family they left and, so they want to reunite with their previous families. The man of Palwal had four daughters and one son. Therefore, the soul showed deep attachment with them and wanted to come back to them. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: The Quran, Islamic Theology, Philosophy and the Sciences – On Soul and the Creation of Man (Part 2) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The scholars of Buddhism and Upanishads also say that dreams are often glimpses of one's past life. The people and places one sees in dreams are more often are of his past life because of the memories stored up in the consciousness. The Quran on some occasions speaks of Nash'at al Aakhir (next life). Since we do not interpret these verses from the point of view of rebirth, we interpret them as the life in the Hereafter. In the light of the fast developments and incidents related to rebirth, it can be said that in near or far future, people will be aware of their past life and therefore will shape their behaviour and deeds in the present life in order to have a good life in the next birth. ----- S. Arshad 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

Umar Al Farooq - The Great Caliph - Part One: Timeline Of The Life Of Caliph Umar

By Moin Qazi, New Age Islam 26 October 2022 Amongst the nations before your time, there have been inspired people (who were not Prophets), and if there is one amongst my Ummah, he is Umar - Prophet Muhammad Timeline of the Life of Caliph Umar 577: Umar born in Makkah to Khattab ibn Nufayl and Hantama bint Hisham. 616: Umar’s conversion to Islam. 634-644: Umar (b 577 CE – d 3 November 644 CE)) reigns as the second Caliph. The Muslims subjugate Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia and Persia. Garrisons were established in the conquered lands, and the Muslim rulers began to take control of the financial organisation. 635: Muslims begin the conquest of Persia and Syria. 635: Arab Muslims capture the city of Damascus from the Byzantines. 636: Battle of Yarmuk (also: Yarmuq, Hieromyax): Following the Muslim capture of Damascus and Edessa, Byzantine Emperor Heraclius organizes a large army that manages to take back control of those cities. However, Byzantine commander, Baänes is soundly defeated by Muslim forces under Khalid ibn Walid in a battle in the valley of the Yarmuk River outside Damascus. This leaves all of Syria open to Arab domination. 636: The Arabs under Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas defeat a Sasanian army in the battle of Qadisiyya (near Hira), gaining Iraq west of the Tigris. A second victory follows at Jalula, near Ctesiphon. 637: The Arabs occupy the Persian capital of Ctesiphon. By 651, the entire Persian realm would come under Islam's rule, which continued its westward expansion. 637: Syria is conquered by Muslim forces. 637: Jerusalem falls to invading Muslim forces. 638: Caliph Umar marries Umm Kulthum; enters Jerusalem. 639-42: Conquest of Egypt (642 taking of Alexandria) by ‘Amr ibn al-’As. Muslims capture the sea port of Caesarea in Palestine, marking the end of the Byzantine presence in Syria. Timeline of the Life of Caliph Umar 641: Islam spreads into Egypt. The Catholic Archbishop invites Muslims to help free Egypt from Roman oppressors. 641: Under the leadership of Abd-al-Rahman, Muslims conquer southern areas of Azerbaijan, Daghestan, Georgia, and Armenia. 641/2: Under the leadership of Amr ibn al-As, Muslims conquer the Byzantine city of Alexandria in Egypt. Al-As creates the first Muslim city in Egypt, al-Fustat, and builds there the first mosque in Egypt. 644: Umar dies and is succeeded by Uthman. ------ The Greatness of Caliph Umar The romance of history is not only fascinating but also genuinely inspiring. Every age has been a model for the succeeding one, and thus the history of the kingdoms and the human race has evolved from cave dwellers to visitors to the moon. Butin this vast penumbra, history remains studded with only a few individuals whose lives shine in luminescence and whose ideals are living models of shimmering meteors of wisdom. These great men have been the pathfinders and torchbearers of plans that shaped glorious civilizations. Men of genius are meteors intended to burn to light their century. In history, some men were exquisite kings, philosophers, scholars, rulers, and generals who could grasp the true purpose of life quite early and harnessed it into great societies and did not have to share the ignominy of many others who could not catch the luminescence of this truth and had to remain content with leaving a poor legacy. Those noble souls, whose teachings survived the driftwood of history and whose names continue to burnish with greatness, were men driven by a ceaseless urge to change society by liberating segments of the population that were fenced from each other by prejudice. All great men - whether social reformers, thinkers, statesmen, sages, or patriots - differ from ordinary men only in one respect. They dare to dream and also work to transmute that dream into reality. They give life both meaning and purpose and devote themselves single-mindedly to achieving it. In the seventh century, the envoy of the Roman Emperor set out for Madinah, accompanied by a large entourage, flaunting the pageantry of adornments that the Roman Empire was famous for. On arrival in the metropolis of Islam, he enquired from a passer-by: “Tell me please, where is the palace of the Caliph?” The Arab looked around. He was amused by this strange question, “What do you mean by a palace?” retorted the Arab.” I mean the palace of Umar, the Caliph of Islam,” added the envoy. ‘‘Oh! You want to see Umar. Come on, I will take you in his presence,” replied the Arab. The envoy was escorted to the Mosque of the Prophet, and, to his utter astonishment, a man who was lying on the bare floor of the mosque was introduced to him as Caliph Umar, the greatest ruler of his time, whose armies held sway over the three known continents of the world. The envoy was taken aback at such a strange sight. The report of what he observed in Madinah was enough to impress the Roman Emperor with the invincible might of Islam. Umar, in full ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭtāb, (born c. 586, Mecca, Arabia [now in Saudi Arabia] - died November 3, 644, Medina, Arabia), the second Muslim caliph (from 634). He was the second successor, or Caliph, to Muhammad, but he was also Muhammad’s father-in-law. Umar is sometimes referred to as the “St. Paul” of Islam, first because of his success in spreading Islam and second because he was originally opposed to Islam, but underwent a conversion experience that caused him to reverse course and support Prophet Muhammad. It was under him that Arab armies conquered much of the world that Became Arabia of his day. He is a significant figure in the development of Muslim civilization. He supervised the installation of Abu Bakr as the first Caliph and masterminded the victories over both the Byzantine and Persian empires. Simplicity, poverty, justice - these are three qualities of the brave and energetic man who led the Arabs out of the confines of the Arabian Desert into the lush lands of the age-old Fertile Crescent Umar was part of the first emigration to Medina and became an important companion of Muhammad. He participated in all of the Muslim battles against the Quraish. Umar was an implacable puritan and the architect of the whole political geography of the Islamic empire. A member of the clan of ʿAdī of the Meccan tribe of Quraysh, ʿUmar at first opposed Muhammad but, in about 615, became a Muslim. By 622, when he went to Medina with Muhammad and the other Meccan Muslims, he had become one of Muhammad’s chief advisers, closely associated with Abū Bakr. His position in the state was marked by Muhammad’s marriage to his daughter Ḥafṣah in 625. On Muhammad’s death in 632, ʿUmar was primarily responsible for reconciling the Medinan Muslims to the acceptance of a Meccan, Abū Bakr, as head of state (caliph). Abū Bakr (reigned 632–634) relied extensively on ʿUmar and nominated him to succeed him. As caliph, ʿUmar was the first to call himself “commander of the faithful” (Amīr Al-Muʾminīn). His reign saw the transformation of the Islamic state from an Arabian principality to a world power. Umar was a member of the Ummayah clan of the Makkan Quraysh tribe – thus, the name of the empire he founded was the Umayyad Empire. After the death of Muhammad, Umar made sure that the community leadership went to Abu Bakr. This effort helped ensure that the group was not split according to differing loyalties between those from Makkah and those from Madinah. Abu Bakr designated Umar as his successor when he was on his deathbed. The Great Expansion Throughout this remarkable expansion, ʿUmar closely controlled general policy and laid down the principles for administering the conquered lands. The structure of the later Islamic empire, including legal practice, is primarily due to him. ʿUmar established the Diwan (a register of warriors’ pensions that, over time evolved into a powerful governmental body), inaugurated the Islamic Hijrī calendar, and created the office of the qadi (judge). He also established the garrison cities of Al-Fusṭāṭ in Egypt and Basra and Kūfah in Iraq. Converting to Islam in the 6th year after Muhammad’s first revelation, Umar spent 18 years in the companionship of Muhammad. He succeeded Caliph Abu Bakr on 23 August 634 and transformed his inherited empire. His reign saw the evolution of the Islamic state from an Arabian principality to a world power, controlling the whole territory of the former Sassanid Persian Empire and more than two-thirds of the Eastern Roman Empire. A Bold Strategist Umar’s legislative abilities, his firm political and administrative control over a rapidly expanding empire and his brilliantly coordinated attacks against the Sassanid Persian Empire that resulted in the conquest of the Persian Empire in less than two years marked his reputation as an astute political and military strategist. Throughout this remarkable expansion, Umar closely controlled general policy and laid down the principles for administering the conquered lands. The structure of the later Islamic empire, including legal and administrative systems and financial architecture, is largely a result of his farsightedness and wisdom. A strong ruler, stern toward offenders, and ascetic to the point of harshness, he was universally respected for his justice and authority. Umar personified what the Arabs called muruwwa, the virtue of being a man. It connotes a cluster of virtues: bravery, generosity, practical wisdom and honour, all highly valued and praised in Arab tribal culture. Umar was endowed with extraordinary practical knowledge. Practical learning - the Greeks called phronesis–is essentially the art of knowing the right thing to do at the right time and in the right way. It encompasses the ability to see ahead, predict how things will unfold, and forecast the consequences of a given course of action. Throughout his reign, Umar remained a legendary puritan, a stern, austere man who came down hard on any public display of vulgarity, gambling, improper dress, the misuse of state property, or abuse of delegated powers. He expected those entrusted with the high office to have morality to match their exalted responsibilities. In 644, ʿUmar was attacked by an enslaved Persian Christian named Abū Luʾluʾah and died from his wounds three days later. While he lay dying, ʿUmar appointed a six-man council that eventually selected ʿUthmān ibn ʿAffān as his successor. A strong ruler, stern toward offenders, and ascetic to the point of harshness, ʿUmar was universally respected for his justice and authority. His role in decisively shaping the early Islamic community is widely acknowledged. When the Roman emperor heard about his death, he said: "A virtuous person has passed away... I am hardly surprised to see an ascetic who renounced the world and gave himself to the prayers of Allah. But I am certainly surprised at a person who had all the world's pleasures at his feet and yet shut his eyes against them and lived a life of piety and renunciation." Umar’s whole being was focused on pleasing God; he feared God’s punishment but hoped for Paradise. Umar could distinguish between truth and falsehood; he was pained when the Ummah or any member of it was hurt, and he felt joy when those under his care were content and happy worshipping their Lord. Many regard Umar as one of the greatest political geniuses in history. He is often seen as the architect of the Islamic Empire. Under his leadership, the empire expanded at an unbelievable pace and several administrative reforms were undertaken. As a jurist, he began to codify Islamic law. He decreed that the Islamic calendar should be counted from the year of the Hijra of Muhammad from Makkah to Madinah. The achievements of Umar are all the more remarkable, considering that he lacked the advantage of birth, nobility, or wealth that some of the other Companions enjoyed. He was born into the tribe of Bani ‘Adi, a poorer cousin among the Quraysh. In his own words, before he accepted Islam, he was at various times a petty merchant and a shepherd who would often lose his sheep. From such humble beginnings, he rose to weld together an empire greater in size than Rome or Persia, governed it with the Wisdom of Solomon, and administered it with the sagacity of Joseph. The Prophet had great praise for Umar’s knowledge and faith. He bore witness to the superiority of Umar in his faith and knowledge, saying: ‘While I was sleeping, I saw the people being presented to me. Each of them was wearing a shirt. Some reached to their breast and some reached farther than that. Then Umar was shown to me with his shirt reaching to the ground.’ They asked: ‘How do you interpret it, Allah’s Messenger?’ He said: ‘Faith’ [Al-Bukhari]. About his knowledge, the Prophet said, ‘While sleeping, I drank until I saw springs coming from my fingernails. Then, I gave Umar some to drink.’ They said: ‘How do you interpret it, Allah’s Messenger?’ He said: ‘Knowledge.’ Prophet Muhammad said, “If there were to be a Prophet after me, then he would be Umar ibn Al-Khattab.” (Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book 57, Number 38). Umar was one of the ‘chosen ten’ Companions of the Prophet of Islam who were assured of Paradise. However, this did not stop him from tirelessly working all his life to please God. He was a man of knowledge, known for his generosity and tireless devotion to the worship of God and, perhaps, above all, his devotion to the Ummah of Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad would repeatedly counsel the Ummah, “A man is not a true believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” As long as he lived, Umar’s moral authority was undisputed. Al Tabari records: ‘Umar said to Selman: ‘Am I a king or a Caliph?’ and Selman answered: ‘If you have levied from the lands of the Muslims one dirham, or more, or less, and applied it unlawfully, you are a king, not a Caliph.’ And ‘Umar wept. Umar owned one shirt and one mantle, both noted for their patchwork. The glory of Islam was his only concern. Umar’s achievements are impressive indeed. After Muhammad himself, he was the principal figure in the expansion of the Arab kingdom. Simplicity, poverty, and justice are three qualities of the brave and energetic man who led the Arabs out of the confines of the Arabian Desert into the lush lands of the age-old Fertile Crescent. Without his rapid conquests, it is doubtful if Islam would have been so expansive. Furthermore, most of the territory conquered during his reign remained Arab. Of course, it was Muhammad who was the prime mover. But it would be a grave mistake to ignore Umar’s contribution. Umar capitalized on the momentum built in Prophet’s time and harnessed it into a well-crafted and marvellously executed strategy. ----- Moin Qazi is the author of the bestselling book, Village Diary of a Heretic Banker. He has worked in the development finance sector for almost four decades. 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

Tolerance Is Required for Coexistence

By Mufti Mohammad Sanaul Hoda Qasmi Translated from Urdu, New Age Islam Staff Writer 26 October 2022 The need for tolerance in a society with a diverse and religious population Main Points: 1. In a country where people of all religions, civilizations, and cultures coexist, it is essential for followers of all faiths to cultivate tolerance toward one another. 2. Tolerance refers to respect for one another rather than acts of polytheism [shirk] and disbelief [Kufr] that violate the laws of worshipping the One God. ------ In a country where people of all religions, civilizations, and cultures coexist, it is essential for followers of all faiths to respect one another and cultivate tolerance toward one another in line with the coexistence principle. How far a Muslim can go with this tolerance is the question that people have in their minds at a time when intolerance is on the rise across the country. People are spewing venom via social media, television, and other media because they are unsure of how to resolve the problem. If people wish to protect themselves against this hateful pollution, they must be aware of their level of tolerance and refrain from thinking about things that are not important. Islamic tolerance is characterized by kindness, respect, and consideration for the rights and justice of non-Muslims. If they need financial assistance, it should be given to them, and there should be sufficient charity and gifts to satisfy their needs. Disrespecting someone is against human dignity. As a result, neither the subject matter nor any non-religious person should be treated with disdain. This caution is necessary both in relation to men and to women in order to prevent this shared joke from turning into a declaration of war. Everyone should also approach the situation honestly. In any circumstance, cheating is abhorrent to everyone and is not supported by Islam. Cheating is one thing, and being duped as a result of an action is quite another, but in a state of war, such actions are permitted that dupe the opposing party. For this reason, according to the Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him), “a cheater is not one of us. It is crucial to preserve any legislation of this kind that does not contravene the core values and tenets of Sharia. Because Islam has taught us to keep contracts and violating the conditions of a peace deal is an extreme case of bad faith, it is essential to uphold all existing agreements, whether they are documented or spoken. In the same way, tolerance is also required to go through all those movements, which create an atmosphere of hatred and promote murder, including speech and writing. Nothing should be done or spoken about that would fan the flames of sectarianism or that would serve as a springboard for temptation and corruption. Mutual contact should be improved, and persons from other religions should be invited to participate in the events, in order to clear up any misunderstandings that have been sown by the media. Rumours shouldn't be believed, and people shouldn't let their hearts grow suspicious of the other side. Hateful chants should not be made throughout the march. Provocation is never appropriate. Store vandalism, burning of vehicles, and other vandalism-related offences pose a threat to public order. Therefore, a situation like that shouldn't be tolerated and should be prevented at all costs. It is common to see non-religious persons join the parade. It is unknown what percentage of those taking part in the parade are Muslims and what proportion are non-Muslims because Muslims have abandoned their religious identity. These other individuals, who also join the parade for that reason, then commit crimes against peace and order before leaving. The most crucial aspect of tolerance is to refrain from disparaging the leaders and deities of other religions. They will start speaking negatively about our Allah and Messenger if we insult their religious leaders and deities. This makes it appear as though we are the ones who are insulting Allah and His Messenger. Even if we need to explain anything to someone or assist others in understanding it, we should keep a good attitude, avoid being aggressive, and behave sensibly. Wisdom is the believer's lost treasure, thus it should be accepted and assimilated wherever it is discovered. We should also keep in mind that Allah Almighty commanded Hazrat Musa and Hazrat Haroon (peace be upon them) to talk softly when they were sent to the worst individual [Pharaoh] of the period. However, tolerance does not require us to adopt a particular religion's tenets or any of its distinctive slogans. Words must be avoided at all costs if they are used to justify actions of unbelief [Kufr], whether literally or figuratively. Muslims should refrain from using any words that violate the fundamental beliefs of Islam. Because speaking things like these are not a sign of tolerance but rather a mockery of faith. Some gullible Muslims believe that uttering such things has no bearing on their faith or their practice of Islam. They are misinformed because if a Muslim speaks or behaves in a way that contradicts Islamic principles, the foundation of Iman and Islam will crumble. It is forbidden to use language that encourages disbelief. It is important to keep in mind that this situation cannot be equated to the one where a Muslim is made to use the language of unbelief. Because when a Muslim is compelled to express his disbelief, his heart is filled with faith, while his mouth is the only organ used to express his disbelief. However, if a Muslim deliberately expresses disbelief [kufr], it indicates that he is mocking his religion or that he is endorsing the denial. Both mocking religion and embracing the argument against belief are detrimental to faith. The culture that is being fostered in India under the banner of tolerance is an exact replica of Akbar's secularism, and its spirit has nothing to do with Islamic beliefs or principles. In their minds and hearts, they believe that Muslims today wish to be tolerant because they live in a society that is filled with fear and horror, despite the fact that we really refer to it as a source of brotherhood. When our Muslim brothers violate their religion in order to appear secular to their non-Muslim brothers, they are actually meddling with it. Tolerance refers to respect for one another rather than acts of polytheism [shirk] and disbelief [kufr] that violate the laws of worshipping the One God. Our politicians are the main carriers of this mindset. I am unable to explain why someone who values life, religion, and Islam would travel to such a field. You should absolutely go into politics, but don't compromise your moral principles in order to advance in office or amass a fortune. Speaking the truth shouldn't be avoided in favour of a marginal benefit. The reason is that the roles and advantages of this world are temporary whereas life in the afterlife is forever. For the sake of a few days, destroying eternal existence is not just foolish—downright it's insane and an act far away from wisdom. ---- Urdu Article: Tolerance Is Required for Coexistence روداری : بقائے باہم کے لئے ضروری URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Fossilized Beliefs, Ossified Practices: Religious Irrationalities Are Somewhere Tied To the Hoary-Old Practices in The Past

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 26 October 2022 We Foolishly Follow A Dictum And Never Bother How And In Which Circumstances It Originated In The Hoary Past. It Becomes All The More Ludicrous, When We Try To Justify Our Idiocy By Advancing Recondite Theories And ' Profound Commentaries ' Just Like One Straightforwardly Pejorative Word Kafir For Infidels And Polytheists In The Quran Is Glossed Over By Some Congenital Fools By Resorting To All Types Of Mental Gymnastics. ------ “Insaan Ki Tamaam Mazhabi Bewqoofiyon Ke Taar Kahin Na Khain Daur-E-Qadeem Ki Bhooli-Bisri Aadaton Se Waabasta Hote Hain." -Syed Ameer Ali (1848-1928), A Muslim Modernist (All our religious irrationalities are somewhere tied to the hoary-old practices in the past) Each time the guru sat for worship with his students, the ashram cat would come in to distract them, so he ordered them to tie it when the ashram was at prayer. After the guru died, the cat continued to be tied at worship time. And when the cat expired, another cat was brought into the ashram to make sure that the guru's orders were faithfully observed at worship time. Centuries passed and 'learned' treatises were written by guru's 'scholarly' disciples on the liturgical significance of tying up a cat while worship is performed. Most of the humans are like that only. 'Guru's cat' is a metaphor for our obstinate as well as irrational allegiance to customs and practices that have no significance for us any longer, yet we strive to perpetuate them. We foolishly follow a dictum and never bother how and in which circumstances it originated in the hoary past. It becomes all the more ludicrous, when we try to justify our idiocy by advancing recondite theories and ' profound commentaries ' just like one straightforwardly pejorative word Kafir for infidels and polytheists in the Quran is glossed over by some congenital fools by resorting to all types of mental gymnastics. Remember, naked is always naked even if you say and use euphemisms like ' in the buff ' 'sky-clad' or au naturel. Not only that, we try to immortalise our stupidity by giving a religious twist to a practice with a view to lending credence to our archaic and arcane thinking. In his monumental tome, “Man and his superstitions," Sir Carveth Reid states,” If we study the origin of the religious practices, we'll come to know that all of them originated in a particular era with a specific need and purpose. Whether it was a 'thread investiture' or a 'tonsure ceremony' among the Hindu 'vipras' (Brahmans) or the circumcision among the Jewish and Muslims, the socio-geographical reasons were much more overwhelming than any religious requirements. Since religion has a tendency to usurp a purely anthropological act and turn it into rigidity as time glides by, we've a mass, rather moss, of mindless customs." We dare not question why a particular custom is still prevalent lest it should jolt the collective sensibilities of the larger group we're a part of. “You’re not allowed to be the fulcrum of it," Reid further writes. Why should the door of a mosque open towards the 'Qiblah' (the west, the direction Mecca's situated) only? Where's it written that the 'west' is the holiest? When the first mosque was erected in Arabia, while Muhammad was alive, it was a jerry-built construction and the west was found to be the only direction from where the tempestuous sandy storms were relatively less intense. But who cares to get to the roots? Who has the time as well as inclination to get past the facade of ostensible representation of truth and spirituality? A practice gets fossilised when it's not resisted or questioned. Humankind is actually a complacent lot. Frightened it is, but more than a persistent sense of fear, it's a human proclivity never to bother about the traditional perpetuation of a number of things. Most of us are just blind followers. Very few of us are awakened seekers, seekers of truth and even beyond that as the Cambridge-based late physicist Stephen Hawking so aptly said, “Go beyond the stars, galaxies, milky ways and the universe itself, many more truths are awaiting you." Pick up the gauntlet and reassess your established truths, premises, practices and customs. "Bashar Ke Zehan Pe Qarnon Se Jo Musallat Hain / Badal Raha Hoon Gumanon Mein Un Yaqeenon Ko" (I'm out to turn the long-held 'truths', the minds of men are saddled with for ages, into potential doubts). ----- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Reflections on Verses of the Quran on Religious Diversity

Quran Lays Stress on Respect of Common Religious Values Main Points: 1. Every community was sent a messenger. 2. Every religious community has been prescribed a different way of worship. 3. Every religious community has been given a different Shariah. 4. Evil communities were destroyed. 5. Fasting, animal sacrifice and pilgrimage are common in different religions. ------- By New Age Islam Staff Writer 25 October 2022 The holy Quran is not an isolated book but an extension and reminder of what was revealed earlier. The prophets were also the part of a chain of messengers to carry forward the message of God. God wanted diversity in every walk of life and so He also wanted diversity in religious observances. That's why He revealed different ways of life and shariah for different communities. And for every community God sent a messenger so that he could convey His message in their own language. "For every community, there is a messenger."(Yunus: 47) "For each of you We have appointed a law and a way of life. (Shira' and Minhaj)". (Al Maidah: 48) We find the truth of these verses in the diversity of religions and their religious practices in the present world. God says in the Quran that animal sacrifice, namaz and fasting have been prescribed for every religion. You who believe fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God."(Al Baqarah: 183) "And for every religion, We have appointed a rite (of sacrifice) that they might celebrate the name of Allah over the sustenance He gave them from animals. But your god is one God: submit then your wills to Him and give thou the good tiding to those who humble themselves. "(Hajj: 34) We see that the rite of animal sacrifice and fasting is observed by the followers of Vedic religion in India. Moreover, the practice of Maun Vrat is also popular among them. We find mention of Maun Vrat in the Quran on two occasions. Hadhrat Mariam is instructed to observe 'silence' when people would ask about her pregnancy. She is instructed to tell them that she was observing 'Rahman Ka Roza' and so she would not reply to them. The second mention of Maun Vrat is in the verse about Hadhrat Zakaria when he prays to God for a child. He is instructed to observe silence for three days. The Quran tells us that evil communities were destroyed. They were destroyed because of their disbelief, corrupt ways of life and moral and economic evils. The nation of Aad, Samud, Lot a.s., pharaoh, Mohenjo-Daro and many other communities were destroyed because of their evil ways. However, the nations of revealed religions have survived. "For every community there is an appointed term, when their term is reached, neither can they delay it nor can they advance it an hour (or a moment." One verse of the Quran says that believers among Muslims, Jews, Christians and Sabians will be rewarded in the Hereafter. And in another verse it says that the Mushrikeen among the Muslims, Christians, Jews, Majusi and Sabians will be judged by Allah on the Day of Judgment. "Indeed the believers, Jews, Christians and Sabians -- whoever truly believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good will have their reward with their Lord and there will be no fear for them nor will they grieve."(Al Baqarah: 62 and Al Maidah: 69) "And those who are Muslims, and Jews and Sabians and Christians and Majusi and those who commit shirk indeed Allah will judge them on the Day of Judgment. Before God is everything."(Al Hajj: 17) All the above-quoted verses give good reasons to believe that the followers of the Vedic dharma, generally known as Hindus are one of the communities mentioned in the Quran. They have survived along with the followers of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism etc. Evil nations were destroyed. They observe fasting, animal sacrifice and Maun Vrat mentioned in the Quran. They even undertake religious pilgrimage to holy sites. There are ample evidences to show that the people of India were followers of numerous messengers and prophets calked rishis. Some of them are Rishi Atharva to whom Atharva Veda was revealed. Other rishis whose names are known are rishi Angira, rishi Angiras, rishi Satyavah and rishi Vashistha. Muslim Sufi Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi pointed out the graves of nine prophets on a hillock in Bras in Indian Punjab, some three kilometres from Sirhind. The graves of Hadhrat Sheth a.s. and his family members are said to be situated in Ayodhya in India. Graves of some prophets belonging to the family of Bani Israel have reportedly been discovered in Gujarat in Pakistan. Obviously, those prophets spoke in Sanskrit and other regional languages. The Vedas and Upanishads preach monotheism. It cannot be denied that over a long period of time many innovative practices might have crept in Vedic dharma but it cannot also be denied that they are nations of prophets raised for their guidance and salvation. Buddhism is said to be reform movement, within the Hindu dharma and not a new religion according to Indologists. Prophet Nuh pbuh (Maha Nuh or Manuh) lived in the coastal area of India. A town in the state of Haryana in India is called Nuh. It is close to Bras where graves of prophets are situated. Tannur is a coastal town in Kerala which is mentioned in the Quran from where the Great Deluge (Mahaparlayawan) started. The Great Deluge is mentioned in Bible, Hindu scriptures and the Quran. The caste system prevalent in India during prophet Nuh's India is evident in the following verse: "And We sent Noah towards his people (and he, said) that I warn you in clear words that do not worship except Allah; I fear for a day of severe torment on you, then said the disbelieving chiefs of his nation, ' we see you only a man like us and we do not see any one following you except the lowliest (Arzal) among you without giving it much thought'."(Hud: 27) All this indicates that the people of India largely known as Hindus are communities of various prophets. Therefore, Muslims need to reorient their religious attitude towards Hindus and other religious communities of India and abroad. 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