Monday, September 25, 2023

We Need An Astute Statesman, Not A Loquacious Leader

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 25 September 2023 Roman emperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius (121 CE-180 CE) once said, "When the idiosyncrasies of a foolish king are not only followed by his subjects but are also justified, rest assured, the whole kingdom is a huge mental asylum." By the way, the concept of a mental asylum wasn't prevalent 2000 years ago when Aurelius ruled. He used the archaic Latin word 'Empuara' (an assembly of fools). While translating into English, Professor Bulwer Lytton used mental asylum for an ' Empuara'. There's no doubt that India will soon become Bharat, though it hasn't yet been officially christened as Bharat. It's still India. Yet, sycophants and boot-lickers have started calling the country Bharat and even 'educated' ones are displaying this in their DPs. These people are justifying why India must be called Bharat. But this didn't occur to them until a year ago! One whimsical and quasi-educated ruler suggested a new name and the whole country is chanting that name just like when he suggested Taali-Thaali during the pandemic, people of India temporarily became drummers and clappers. Plato observed in The Republic that incompetent rulers resorted to slogan-mongering because the masses loved slogans. Political catch-words and 'witty' phrases are doing the rounds. Even this exasperating term Sanatan is a very recent religio-political construct to intoxicate the majority with the opium of faith. John Stuart Mill believed that religiously inebriated masses could be easily ruled because their brains were dead. The brain-dead majority will slavishly follow what the ruler decrees. It's really a matter of concern that in less than a decade, a whole country has changed so drastically and become so fanatic. This also underlines the fact that demagogues are more successful than genuine leaders. Perceptive readers may have observed that at the moment, the whole world is facing a crisis in proper (political) leadership. Whether it's the Indian PM, Canadian PM Trudeau, US Head Biden or French President Macron, there's no one of the stature of Mandela or Kennedy. They're all political clowns. None of them is a statesman. We need statesmen. More than any other country, India does need a balanced individual at the helm, not a garrulous garrison of gibberish. ------ A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Hate Speech Reaches a New Low in India with Ramesh Bidhuri's Derogatory Language Against a Muslim MP In Parliament

By New Age Islam Staff Writer 23 September 2023 1. Muslims are routinely abused on TV and social media. 2. They are showed as an enemy of the society. 3. Their religious identity is under threat. 4. They have been pushed to the wall. ------ BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri speaks in the Lok Sabha during a special session of Parliament in New Delhi on Sept. 21 (PTI) ---- Samar Halarnkar's article rightly reflects the agony, anxiety and helplessness of the Muslim community of India in the backdrop of the abuses hurled against a Muslim MP, Kunwar Danish Ali by Ramesh Bidhuri, a BJP MP from South Delhi in the new Parliament building named Samvidhan Bhawan. As the nation celebrated the shifting of the legislature to the new building, it had hoped that it will usher into a new era of political thinking. The passing of Women's Reservation Bill in the new building was a positive sign that India was making strides in the right direction. But after only a couple of days, an MP made the nation ashamed and embarrassed by his abusive language in the parliament defying all the parliamentary norms and ethical values of the Indian society. Only a week ago, the South Indian leader had made derogatory remarks about Sanatan dharma which was protested by the followers of Sanatan dharma to which Ramesh Bidhuri belongs but his remarks reflect his sick mentality and a distorted notion of religion in his mind. That he used abusive language in the Parliament shows that he does not also care for the image of India in the international community. Kunwar Danish Ali had not abused Bidhuri or his party but he had simply praised ISRO's scientists for making India proud in the field of space technology. He had also praised the contribution of Nehru, Abul Kalam Azad and the present Prime Minister for jointly and collectively providing support and resources to the scientists. Still, he was abused and humiliated. Danish Ali has become a symbol of a community that has continually been oppressed, humiliated and relegated to the corner. The services of the Muslim community and their sacrifices for the freedom of India and its scientific, economic and technological development has been ignored. Not only that, efforts are being made to prove them an enemy of the nation. Recently, a seven-year-old Muslim boy of Muzaffar Nagar was made victim of the hatred of a lady teacher. A teacher in a school in Delhi reportedly said to the class that the Muslims had no role in the independence of India. The truth points to the contrary. The Muslims being in the minority in India, were in the vanguard of the independence movement. The battle of Shamli in UP was fought by the ulema. The leader of the 1857 revolt was Bahadur Shah Zafar and the first journalist sentenced to death for writing against the British was Maulvi Mohammad Baqar. As the first education minister of India, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad built the roadmap for India's scientific and technological progress. He set up IITs and other scientific institutions of India Scientist APJ Abdul Kalam is called the Missile Man of India for developing India's missile system. In the latest moon mission of India, many young Muslim scientists also contributed considerably. Despite all this, a section of media and political leaders continually make verbal assaults against them and unleash false propaganda against them. The mainstream media has routinely spread rumours, misleading news, and provocative content against Muslims. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the media showed them as spreading corona. The incident in the Parliament is an indication that the Indian society has reached a new low. More than reflecting the Muslim community's condition in India, the behaviour of Bidhuri reflects how the majoritarian politics has thrown all the ethical and moral values of the country to the winds. For the last nine years, the Indian media has been promoting a culture of abuse and the culture of abuse has affected every household. Now this culture has become a new normal. It was promoted under a planning. Many times, the anchors are seen apparently speaking vulgar words by mistake. In fact, it’s not a mistake. It is done deliberately to spread vulgarity in tje society. It is done on TV channels in Pakistan as well under the same culture of vulgarity. The idea behind this culture of vulgarity is that once a nation loses its ethical and moral values, it turns into a community of animals and beasts. This culture of vulgarity was promoted by Radio Rwanda and the world saw its consequences. That those speaking vulgar words on the TV are not removed or punished is proof that the culture of vulgarity is being promoted deliberately. Kunwar Danish Ali may not be the only victim in the Parliament or outside. The MPs and MLAs from the Muslim community will increasingly find it difficult to speak and live with dignity in this communally charged atmosphere. Mob lynchings have become a new normal. Bulldozing of their houses by the state has also become a new normal. So abusing Muslim legislatures may also become a new normal in the country. Muslims will have to face Monu Manesars, Chetan Singhs and Bidhuris in new India. Their contributions and sacrifices for this country will be ignored. Their mosques, Mazars and houses will remain under constant threat. But they will not be able seek redressal, justice and a dignified life in an increasingly hostile society. They need to sit and contemplate on where they went wrong. ---- Ramesh Bidhuri And The Descent Of India By Samar Halarnkar 22 September 2023 In India’s Parliament, Ramesh Bidhuri represents South Delhi, one of India’s most prosperous constituencies, with the income of its people probably higher than that of some states and countries. That they elected him says something about them and their innermost feelings, which in these fraught, divisive times that Bidhuri’s party presides over, are, often, freely, and unashamedly expressed. The feelings of Bidhuri and a great many of his constituents centre on the growing notion that Hindus have first – and possibly the only – claim to this country. Its minorities, especially Muslim, should live as second-class citizens and at the sufferance of Hindus, who can say and do what they want to demean, insult, attack and degrade. Islamophobic views and violence have steadily grown in India since Bidhuri’s boss was first voted to power in 2014, sparking a flood of hate speech and lynchings, but every time we think the bottom has been reached, someone from the Bharatiya Janata Party or its allied Hindu-extremist ecosystem conjures a new low. We have never in Indian history heard a member of Parliament call another a “pimp”, a “terrorist”, “Katwa” (circumcised), “Mullah Ugrawadi” and “Mullah Aatankwadi” (Muslim terrorist) because he is Muslim. The target of Bidhuri’s abuse was Kunwar Danish Ali of the Bahujan Samaj Party. Weary and resigned as Muslims have been to their deteriorating situation, the attack on a Muslim MP for merely being a Muslim indicated hatred’s long journey – from WhatsApp to street to television studio to Parliament, two days after its new building, meant to represent the best of India, was inaugurated. Unless it is arrested, there is an inevitability, an inescapability to India’s perilous descent, and there is no sign that Indian society or politics is currently capable of stopping the fall. “… the fact that it happened in a new Parliament building under your leadership is heartbreaking for me as a minority member of this great nation and an MP,” Ali wrote to the speaker, Om Birla, whose response was to “warn” Bidhuri of “strict action” if he repeated such behaviour. “People keep saying “nothing even shocks us anymore” and yet there’s something this country and its leaders do every now and then that comes as a gut punch,” journalist Fatima Khan said on X, her anguish, like that of many Muslims, escalating into new despair. “This country is not for Muslim politicians, or Muslim activists, or Muslim citizens. This country is not for Muslims.” That Birla – known for suspending opposition MPs for far less, even switching off their microphones –lightly admonished Bidhuri reflected not just partisan behaviour but how Islamophobic abuse and violence have become normalised in Hindu society. The easy acceptability of anti-Muslim feelings at the highest levels of government was made clear as former BJP union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and former BJP union health minister Harsh Vardhan spontaneously grinned and guffawed at Bidhuri’s tirade. Obviously, they did not see anything wrong. To taunt Muslims is now a national sport. Bidhuri’s tone is not unique. Similar language is frequently used by his party compatriots and allies, with no consequences. The same week, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma suggested that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s house be “burned down”. The Congress filed a first information report against Sarma in Assam, but do not expect the police to act with alacrity or at all, in contrast to the swift manner that they repeatedly have against Muslim activists who called for peace during protests. If attitudes such as Bidhuri’s are to be combatted, the battle must be initiated by his political opponents. There are those who stand against such virulence, as indeed did Mahua Moitra, Trinamool MP, who first posted the video of his rant on social media. Moitra was right when she said that “most now see nothing wrong with it”. Accusing the prime minister of reducing “Indian Muslims to living in such a state of fear in their own land that they grin & bear everything”, Moitra said, “Sorry but I’m calling this out, Ma Kali holds my spine.” Many more must call out Bidhuri’s invective, in particular the Congress, India’s leading opposition party, which in recent times has all too often vacillated, waffled or stayed silent over abuse and violence against minorities. In Karnataka, which the Congress now runs, serial Islamophobe Pramod Muthalik – once banned from entering Goa by a BJP government – feels emboldened enough to threaten a mosque invasion to install a Ganesh idol there, “if Hindu society was provoked”. Nothing stops the Congress from filing criminal cases and arresting people like Muthalik, using some of the laws that BJP governments routinely deploy against minorities, random political opponents and dissidents. A day before Bidhuri screamed at Ali in Parliament, Fernand de Varennes, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, told a US Commission on International Religious Freedom Hearing, that he and a number of UP special rapporteurs had expressed “grave and growing concerns regarding the deteriorating situation in India”. “We have, in the last decade, issued numerous communications and press releases…They show a steady and alarming erosion of fundamental rights, particularly for religious and other minorities from the review of communications from 2011 to now,” said Varennes. “By 2022, almost all of them involve grave allegations of denial of fundamental rights, particularly targeting religious minorities.” “Let me repeat: India risks becoming one of the world’s main generators of instability, atrocities and violence, because of the massive scale and gravity of the violations and abuses targeting mainly religious and other minorities such as Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and others. It is not just individual or local, it is systematic and a reflection of religious nationalism.” Bidhuri’s attack on Ali shows that the time for strategic political silence against hate speech is gone. The language of senior BJP leaders and their allies has gone beyond dog whistles, as Sarma’s call to burn down Sonia Gandhi’s house indicates. If the Congress continues to largely ignore and not stand against what Hindu extremists say and do to Muslims and other minorities, there will not be much of a country left to contest. ----- Samar Halarnkar is the editor of, a website that focusses on issues related to the rule of law and democracy in India. Source: Ramesh Bidhuri and The Descent of India 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

Understanding and Overcoming the Lure of Muslim Celebrity Preachers’ Islam

By Adis Duderija, New Age Islam 23 September 2023 As Muslims, we are blessed with a rich tradition, a diverse community, and a faith that can provide guidance, wisdom, and compassion. However, in recent times, a concerning trend has emerged within our midst – the rise of celebrity Muslim preachers who exploit emotional vulnerability and assume unwarranted religious authority, promoting ideas that harm our faith, our community and society. It is essential for us to recognize the dangers associated with such individuals and be vigilant in protecting our religion and our unity. In recent years, the emergence of celebrity Muslim preachers has gained considerable attention. Their charismatic personalities, eloquent speeches, and influential online presence have garnered millions of followers. Among these celebrity Muslim preachers, names like Mohamed Hoblos, Assim Al Hakeem, Wahaj Tarin, Mufti Menk, Zakir Naik, and Daniel Haqiqatjou have gained significant attention and following. They have mastered the art of appealing to our emotions, preying on our vulnerabilities, assuming authoritarian religious authority role, and positioning themselves as the sole arbiters of religious truth. In doing so, they assume an authority that goes beyond their actual qualifications and expertise. Understanding the Threat of Authoritarian Approaches to Divine Authority Religious fundamentalism propagated by celebrity Muslim preachers poses a significant threat to peace and diversity. By adhering to dogmatic thought and rejecting dialogue and diversity within and outside their religion, they foster an environment of intolerance and exclusion. Their influence can dangerously polarize communities that can fuel conflict between different religious groups or actors. This threat is particularly amplified in the context of online media and social networks, where their messages can reach a vast audience quickly. Religious fundamentalism propagated by celebrity Muslim preachers promoting an exclusivist interpretation of Islam that often fosters an "us versus them" mentality. Their rhetoric is often divisive, creating a sense of superiority among followers and promoting an exclusionary worldview. Religious fundamentalism propagated by celebrity Muslim preachers often promotes conspiracy theories and engage in fear-mongering, particularly regarding global events and perceived hidden agendas. Such ideas can instil a sense of paranoia, mistrust, and hostility among their audiences. Celebrity Muslim preachers who present themselves as the exclusive conduits of divine knowledge create a dangerous dynamic within Muslim communities. By positioning themselves as infallible authorities, they assert an absolute monopoly over the interpretation of religious texts and doctrines. This not only stifles critical thinking but also undermines the diversity of opinions and interpretations that have historically characterized Islamic intellectual tradition. The dangers lie not only in the potential for misinterpretation but also in the abuse of power and the imposition of regressive ideas. By assuming unwarranted authorisation approach to religious authority, these preachers present themselves as the ultimate interpreters of Islamic teachings, often flattening the centuries of scholarly tradition, diverse perspectives, and collective wisdom that have shaped our faith. This can lead to a dangerous dependency on their guidance, stifling personal growth, and hindering our ability to engage with the rich intellectual heritage of Islam. Moreover, the assumption of divine authority by celebrity preachers undermines individual agency and critical thinking within Muslim communities. Followers may feel compelled to unquestioningly accept the pronouncements of these preachers, effectively surrendering their own capacity for independent thought and reflection. This blind adherence stifles intellectual growth and inhibits the development of a robust understanding of Islam. It is essential to empower individuals to engage in critical examination and interpretation of religious texts, rather than relying solely on the pronouncements of self-proclaimed authorities. It is crucial to acknowledge the risks associated with religious fundamentalism propagated by celebrity Muslim preachers and promote alternative interpretations of Islam that foster a cosmopolitan Muslim identity that is in harmony with contemporary human rights era ethics, gender justice and religious diversity. Exploiting Emotional Vulnerability: In addition to assuming divine authority, celebrity Muslim preachers in their you tube videos often employ manipulative tactics, using sound and dramatic expressions to emotionally manipulate their naive audience. This op-ed seeks to shed light on the dangers of such tactics, which exploit the emotional vulnerability of individuals and undermine critical thinking. By understanding and recognizing these manipulative strategies, we can empower Muslim communities to engage with religious discourse in a more discerning and intellectually honest manner. Celebrity preachers understand the power of emotions and the profound impact they can have on individuals. They skilfully manipulate the emotional vulnerability of their audience by employing theatrical gestures, melancholic music, impassioned speeches, and evocative language. By appealing to fear, guilt, and a sense of belonging, they create an environment in which critical thinking takes a backseat to emotional fervour. This exploitation of emotions can lead individuals to make decisions and adopt beliefs without subjecting them to rational scrutiny. Creating a Cult of Personality: By utilizing manipulative tactics, celebrity preachers often cultivate a cult of personality around themselves. They project an image of being divinely guided and uniquely qualified to dispense religious knowledge and guidance. This image is reinforced through carefully crafted narratives, staged events, and a constant presence on social media platforms. As a result, followers become emotionally attached to these preachers, seeking validation and guidance exclusively from them. Celebrity preachers who assert divine authority can promote harmful ideologies that perpetuate discrimination and intolerance. By presenting their personal biases and prejudices as divinely ordained, they legitimize regressive views on issues such as gender, human rights, and interfaith relations. This not only poses a threat to the well-being and rights of individuals within Muslim communities but also contributes to negative perceptions of Islam among non-Muslims. The influence wielded by these preachers amplifies the potential harm caused by their distorted interpretations. The dramatic and emotionally charged presentations of celebrity preachers serve to undermine critical thinking within Muslim communities. By appealing to emotions rather than reason, they discourage followers from questioning or challenging their interpretations. This hinders the development of a well-rounded understanding of Islam and perpetuates a culture of blind adherence. Critical thinking, which is essential for intellectual growth and a nuanced understanding of religion, is stifled in favour of emotional manipulation. Celebrity preachers also often use manipulative tactics to exploit the confirmation bias inherent in human psychology. They selectively present evidence, cherry-picking verses or narratives from religious texts that support their preconceived ideas. This selective presentation reinforces the existing beliefs of their audience, confirming their biases and preventing them from critically examining alternative interpretations. By capitalizing on confirmation bias, these preachers reinforce their own authority and discourage followers from seeking diverse perspectives. The manipulative tactics of celebrity preachers also contribute to the promotion of groupthink and polarization within Muslim communities. By fostering an environment where dissenting opinions are discouraged and alternative interpretations are dismissed, they create echo chambers that reinforce a singular worldview. This can lead to the formation of rigid and homogenous communities that are resistant to intellectual diversity. How to Overcome the Lure of Muslim Celebrity Preachers: The rise of Muslim celebrity preachers and the potential dangers associated with their influence require a concerted effort to counter their allure and promote a more nuanced understanding of Islam. To safeguard the integrity of our religion and community, we must actively resist the manipulation of emotional vulnerability and challenge the assumption of Muslim celebrity preachers’ authoritarian approach to the Islamic tradition. We should encourage a culture of critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and resilience in the face of simplistic and emotionally overcharged narratives. By engaging in deeper and more nuanced thinking, the many fallacies and inconsistencies of Muslim preachers’ views can be exposed. To challenge the authority and influence of celebrity Muslim preachers, it is crucial to raise awareness and take advantage of educational resources about the diversity and complexity of Islamic teachings and traditions, especially for young Muslims in the West who might feel conflicted in their western and Muslim identities. Finally, it is essential to support and empower Muslim voices and actors who offer a more intellectually satisfying, ethically appealing, reasonable, cosmopolitan and inclusive interpretations of Islam. ---- A decades old patron of New Age Islam, Dr Adis Duderija is a Senior Lecturer in the Study of Islam and Society, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science; Senior Fellow Centre for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue, Griffith University | Nathan | Queensland | Australia.His forthcoming books are ( co-edited)- Shame, Modesty, and Honor in Islam and Interfaith Engagement Beyond the Divide (Springer) URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Salman Rushdie Redefined Free Speech & Restructured 'Creative Audacity'

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 23 September 2023 “Nobody has the right to not be offended. That right doesn't exist in any declaration I have ever read. If you are offended it is your problem, and frankly lots of things offend lots of people. I can walk into a bookshop and point out a number of books that I find very unattractive in what they say. But it doesn't occur to me to burn the bookshop down. If you don't like a book, read another book. If you start reading a book and you decide you don't like it, nobody is telling you to finish it. To read a 600-page novel and then say that it has deeply offended you: well, you have done a lot of work to be offended.” ― Salman Rushdie ― Salman Rushdie ------- "In August 2022, a Lebanese origin American Muslim Hadi Matar attacked him (Salman Rushdie) on stage during a programme in New York. He sustained some injuries but recovered soon though he lost his right eye. Still, he did not show any signs of repentance or remorse. Instead, he defended his right to free speech." --------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses and The Case of Free Speech --------------------------------------------------------------------- Why should Salman Rushdie show any signs of repentance or remorse? When does a person show repentance or remorse? When he feels that he did something wrong. Compunction makes a person repent. Rushdie is convinced of his stand against Islam and all organized faiths. It's his right. It's an individual's inalienable right to express what he or she wants to express unambiguously as well as fearlessly. Repentance dilutes the intensity of the cause one espouses. To stay unfazed in the face of threats and uncertainty makes a man. 'Respect for religion' has become a code phrase meaning 'fear of religion.' Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, derision, satire and of course, our fearless disrespect. Unless a few maverick geniuses like Dawkins and Rushdie condemn god and religion, how can the religiously inebriated mankind be awakened and jolted out of their slumberous state for ages and aeons? In fact, Rushdie's ' The Satanic Verses' is the quintessence of free speech. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Granted, Salman Rushdie's 'The Satanic Verses' is stylistically his worst novel. It's marked by hopping and incoherence. It's also a tad uncouth and lacks aesthetics. Yet, you cannot deny its impact and ramifications. It has redefined the very concept of religious sanctity and sacredness. Nothing is sacrosanct in this world. Anyone has the right to blast a faith and its associated revered figures. And what's freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist. Rushdie wanted to express his angst and anger regarding religion, esp. regressive Islam. He expressed that through 'The Satanic Verses' where he says, " From the beginning, men used God to justify the unjustifiable." The 'modern' world should be thankful to Rushdie because he enabled us to ask uncomfortable questions. He prodded the living zombies to doubt because he believes that faith without doubt is addiction. He emboldened the world and restructured the term 'creative audacity.' To be impudent is to be prudent. So, instead of repenting, he should congratulate himself on being able to change the religious mindset of a lot many individuals. On the contrary, his Muslim attacker Hadi Matar must repent for his dastardly act. By the way, I'm waiting for the news of the Nobel Committee conferring this year's Nobel for Literature on Salman Rushdie. The dismal fate of Philip Roth and Milan Kundera shouldn't befall Rushdie. ------ A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses and The Case of Free Speech

By New Age Islam Staff Writer 22 September 2023 Both The Islamists and The Defenders of Free Speech Learn a Lesson from The Rushdie Affair Main Points: 1. Ayatollah Khomeini had issued a fatwa of death against Rushdie. 2. Rushdie remained in hiding till 2002. 3. His novel Satanic Verses was burned in Bradford by Muslims. 4. He was attacked by a Lebanese origin youth in 2022. 5. He lost an eye in the attack. ------ Salman Rushdie/ File Photo ------ Salman Rushdie's novel the Satanic Verses had come out in 1988 and sparked worldwide protests by the Muslims as the novel had hurt the religious sentiments of the Muslims. Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini had issued a fatwa of death against him and a bounty on his head. The copies of the novel were burned in Bradford in January 1989. The Indian government led by Rajiv Gandhi banned the novel in India after the Muslim intellectuals represented by Md Shahabuddin demanded a ban on the book to prevent any violent backlash in the country. Dr Rafique Zakaria had also supported the ban and had written a rejoinder against the novel. However, the fatwa and the ban made the book even more popular and it became a bestseller. The fatwa compelled Rushdie to go in hiding and he remained in hiding till 2002. During the period, he had to change his residence constantly. This affected his personal life. In August 2022, a Lebanese origin American Muslim Hadi Matar attacked him on stage during a programme in New York. He sustained some injuries but recovered soon though he lost his right eye. Still, he did not show any signs of repentance or remorse. Instead he defended his right to free speech. Khomeini's fatwa, however, was the beginning of the emergence of an aggressive Islamism. Some critics are of the view that the fatwa led the Muslims on the road to jihad. What the West called freedom of speech was to them the means of blasphemy. The Islamists argued that freedom of speech as all other freedoms was not absolute and it needed to be monitored by self-censorship while the defenders of the freedom of speech argued that it was absolute and needed no censorship. On the contrary, the state must protect those expressing their views. The government of Sweden presents this argument while allowing Quran burning and providing protection to those burning the Quran. The burning of the Quran by Muslims in Bradford did not stop blasphemy against Islam and Quran but it only intensified and became a regular affair. Earlier, Jyllands Posten published cartoons that mocked the prophet of Islam. Next Charlie Hebdo published cartoons. Some films were also made showing Islam and its prophet in bad light. Each time the Muslims protested and each time they were labelled as fundamentalists not understanding the value of freedom of speech. In India too, blasphemy against Islam and its prophet was telecast in the mainstream media. Therefore, the fatwa of death against Salman Rushdie did not work as a deterrent to those criticising Islam. In the era of social media, Muslims are more helpless in the face of what they call blasphemy. In this scenario, Muslims need to learn a lesson and change their religious behaviour. They should learn to behave as a mature community and should not react violently at every instance of blasphemy. Even during the life of the prophet, his opponents used to make insulting remarks against him. He simply ignored them. Indian thinker and reformer did not issue a fatwa against the author of book against the prophet but wrote a book to counter his arguments. The author also warns those defending absolute freedom of speech against the misuse of the social media which has become a repository of hate speech. Now it is easier to make hate speeches on the social media. So, every expression of hate and malice towards anybody cannot be defended as an act of free speech. Today, the social media has got a wide reach and the main medium of expression. It impacts minds and thought process of its users. Social media groups are active and are used for dissemination of knowledge and information. Most of the time it is unmonitored and is used for propaganda against groups and communities. These groups spread hatred and sometimes orchestrate violence. Therefore, such propaganda or hate material cannot be allowed under freedom of speech. In fact, the notion of freedom of speech in the West and in the Islamic world differs. The Muslims respect and revere their religious symbols and sacred personalities. Their religion also enjoins on them not to speak ill of the sacred personalities or deities of other religious communities. The Muslims, therefore, have never published blasphemous cartoons of the saints and prophets of other religions nor any Muslim writer has written any book denigrating any sacred personality of other religions. Maqbool Fida Hussain is an exception. The Muslim community did not defend his alleged sketches as right or the Muslim media did not support him. This is what they expect from the western world. However, the violent attacks or fatwas of death against those showing disrespect to Islam cannot be justified as the Quran does not support it. It asks Muslims to demonstrate restraint and ignore such content. The western world too should review their concept of freedom of speech in order to ensure a peaceful co-existence in a globalised community. ----- The Rushdie Affair By Amir Ali 21.09.23 This year marks 35 years since the publication of Salman Rushdie’s controversial novel, The Satanic Verses. In October 1988, India became the first country to ban the book when the Rajiv Gandhi government was petitioned by the Muslim parliamentarian, Syed Shahabuddin. The Rushdie affair stands out in public memory because of the public burning of the book in the northern England town of Bradford in January 1989. On February 14, 1989, the Iranian spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued the infamous fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death. This made the Rushdie affair into an international and diplomatic event. It also resulted in the word, fatwa, being included in the English lexicon. The word has since mostly been understood as a binding legal diktat, when in classical Islamic jurisprudence it may merely mean a non-binding legal opinion. The Rushdie affair never seems to go away. In August 2022, Salman Rushdie was injured in a stabbing incident by the Lebanese-origin Hadi Matar in New York state, resulting in Rushdie losing vision in one eye. Rushdie himself has, over the years, become a figure associated with a valiant and principled defence of free speech. He has refused to be cowed down by those seeking to silence him. Despite the defence of free speech mounted by Rushdie and his peers, the principle is even more precariously positioned today than it was three and a half decades ago when the Rushdie affair first broke out. This may suggest that grandstanding defences of free speech have had the opposite effect. Ironically, even as the public burning of The Satanic Verses was denounced in the Western media as medieval and reminiscent of the Nazi era, there have been a spate of public burnings of the Quran in Europe recently. The problem of Islamic fundamentalism became further entrenched in the Western political imagination as the Rushdie affair was followed by the US-led war on terror. Among the many books written on the controversy was Kenan Malik’s From Fatwa to Jihad. Malik is otherwise a balanced and sensible political commentator. But the title of his book suggests that it is only a small step from fatwa to jihad to Islamic terrorism and, beyond, to a sharia-compliant and enforcing State. The reinforcement of an exclusive and uncritical association of Islam with terrorism seems then to be a fall-out of the Rushdie affair. This unfortunate association has been amplified by other influential members of the British literary establishment through their writings, such as Fay Weldon, V.S. Naipaul and Martin Amis, and, at times, by their defence of Rushdie. The Rushdie affair has become extremely important in terms of its political and philosophical implications for societies of the late 20th and early 21st centuries as they contend with fundamentalism, terrorism, Islamophobia and free speech. A historical parallel can be drawn with the Dreyfus affair of France in the late 19th century in terms of its implications and the anti-Semitism that it gave rise to in France and other parts of Europe. There are lessons to be learnt from the Rushdie affair. One big lesson for the Muslim side is to prioritise free speech, the lack of which must be acknowledged as a pressing problem. For the West, the Rushdie affair offers a lesson in how not to defend free speech. Free speech cannot be defended by merely asserting its significance ad infinitum. Free speech requires enabling conditions, such as ensuring education remains a public good, a press free from the malign influence of media barons, and prevention of the internet and the social media from becoming commercialised repositories of hate speech in the guise of free speech. Remarkably, the more vociferous voices have been in the West in making the case for free speech, quite often against Islamists, the more the principle has been undermined. The clue to this curious puzzle of wasted efforts in the cause of free speech could lie in the evisceration of every single one of the enabling conditions just mentioned. ----- Amir Ali teaches at the Centre for Political Science, JNU Source: The Rushdie Affair 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

Are Divorce Rates on The Rise Primarily the Fault of Women?

By Kaniz Fatma, New Age Islam 22 September 2023 The Stubbornness of Women Is One of The Reasons Why Marriages Collapse Main Points 1. Globally, divorce rates are rising, especially in the Muslim world, leading to discussions among parliamentary and social organizations on causes and solutions. 2. Women, as family backbones and teachers, prepare children for a better society. 3. We urge women to regain femininity and tenderness, while Pharaonic husbands should use their manhood wisely and forbearingly, resisting the temptation to act like Pharaohs. ----- Why is divorce becoming a more prevalent trend globally? Everyone is curious about the causes of the rising divorce rate, which is a trend that is particularly significant in the Muslim world. Many of our parliamentary and social organisations are now debating its causes and solutions because it has become such a hot topic. Whatever actions have been made to slow the rising divorce rate thus far have not been entirely successful. Therefore, it is necessary to offer a clear solution so that women who pay attention to it can be spared from the greater difficulties and sorrows that follow divorce. Although divorce is a notion that exists in Islam, it has also been highly denounced because it not only causes the separation of a husband and wife but also worsens the challenges faced by divorced women and jeopardises the futures of their children. In a marriage, both happiness and despair are inescapable environments. Psychologically, a person cannot possibly be happy or unhappy all the time. It is inevitable that humanity will change in attitude and situation. There are many times between a husband and wife when the husband has an opinion and the wife doesn't share it or like it. This is an extremely delicate position. When there is a conflict, it is sometimes important for a man to act patiently, and it is sometimes required for a woman to act gently and patiently. When a woman prioritizes her opinion while exhibiting intensity and stubbornness rather than gentleness, the outcome is highly serious and its harmful ramifications start to manifest. The woman forgets that if she persists in arguing her case and insists on disliking her husband's viewpoint, a hostile environment would be created between the two, which could eventually result in divorce. In addition to their separation, the outcome will be negative for the children's future. Both men and women are in some way accountable for the rising divorce rate, but in this essay, we will focus especially on the accountability of women and their obstinacy. The Stubbornness of Women Is One of The Reasons Why Marriages Collapse If we are talking about women, they are the backbone of the family and the teachers in this life. As a result, if you raise a girl correctly, she will grow into a good wife and mother who will raise a good generation, and what she teaches them will have a significant influence on building a better society. On the other hand, if a woman is untrained, lacks moral and emotional insight into the situation, and is stubborn and does not listen to anyone before her, keep in mind that her stubbornness can be easily ignored at her parents' house, but it can cause trouble for her in her in-laws' home. We have observed a lot of obstinate women who very easily cause the dissolution of marriages and other relationships, including those with their parental family. A woman who lacks patience and fortitude and instead has superiority and stubbornness will cause marriage to fail because she will use push-pull techniques to succeed and will put her selfishness and stubbornness above other family members. The qualities of a lady who is easy-going, kind, loving, devoted, and receptive are extolled in numerous Islamic traditions and Ahadith. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and the Companions who came after him set a good example for us. They advised women to control their husbands with intelligence, gentleness, and obedience in order to win their affection. When a wise and intelligent woman constructs a permanent home, she exhibits such tenderness and fortitude that the storm of the greatest challenges passes in front of her, the days of trouble are over, and she begins to live in days of prosperity. A stubborn woman, on the other hand, is like a dry stick that breaks and shatters on its own to the point where it can no longer be fixed. I've learned from my educational experiences that stubborn women struggle in their social and personal lives. The Bedouins of the Arabs usually teach their daughters that if they make their husband their lord, he will make them his queen. This implies that if you treat him as your master and turn into a slave for him, he will treat you as his queen and turn into a slave as well. Once it does, she can then use it to gain whatever she wants. These tips have been well-followed by successful wives. Men are kind, welcoming, and very polite, yet obstinate women turn them into adversaries. Families disintegrate as a result, divorce rates rise, and widowhood rates rise in our culture. There are numerous factors that contribute to marital conflicts that result in divorce. The wife's stubbornness and resistance to her husband stand out among these. She tries to be like her husband in everything. sometimes, because of her stubbornness, she starts to degrade him and thinks she is the only one who can have a better opinion. She typically changes into a plaything in households when there has been a major argument and violence between the husband and wife. The woman then exhibits more resistance and puts her selfish attitude on display. The husband then makes an attempt to break his wife's nose in retaliation for her attitude. We need to be mindful that two powerful brains can hurt one another when they collide. Similarly, when two people with strong temperaments argue, one of them will undoubtedly crumble. We urge every wife to regain her femininity, tenderness, and submission to her husband. In a similar fashion, we exhort every Pharaonic husband with a tyrannical nature, a hard temper, and a hard heart to use his manhood wisely and forbearingly, resisting the temptation to act like a Pharaoh just because he is the one paying the maintenance and say "I will only show you what I see". In the next essay, we will look at the rise of the divorce trend, in which males are mainly accountable, in an effort to stop it and create a society that upholds the principles and standards of our religion. ----- Kaniz Fatma is a classic Islamic scholar and a regular columnist for New Age Islam. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

"The Rose's Rarest Essence Lives in The Thorns"

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 22 September 2023 “The rose's rarest essence lives in the thorns.” ― Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi This is one of my favourite quotes. This short, succinct and pithy aphorism speaks volumes. What's often perceived as ugly, useless and apparently harmful can have far greater and deeper significance. But that needs discernment. Zarre-Zarre Mein Samandar Hai, Nazar Paida Kar (Every particle contains a sea. You need to develop that kind of discernment and observation). "Rose is contextualised in its thorny existence, "wrote Nigerian novelist and poet, Chinua Achebe. It's because of thorns, a rose is valued. It's what we call 'contradictory juxtaposition' or Fahzat in Persian. A day's importance is valued because of the night. Japanese would say, ' thornier a fish, tastier it is.' The essence of life lies in a number of tests, twists, turns, trials and tribulations. They're the thorns of life. Gold becomes sterling when it passes through a series of exacting tests. Amrita Pritam wrote of Sahir, "Unke Chehre Pe Kuchh Daagh Thay. Unhin Daaghon Ki Vajah Se Sahir Mujhe Bahut Acchhe Lagte Thay" (There were a few scars on the face of Sahir and I liked him because of them). Nothing is wasted nothing is in vain/ The seas roll over but the rocks remain. What we often reject as useless, often has the essence. Coming back to the thorns of a rose, its thorns lend a dash of uniqueness to it. To quote poet-lyricist Aish 'Kanwal' (he wrote that immortal number 'Main Toh Tere Haseen Khyalon Mein Kho Gaya', sung by Rafi, Film: Sangraam, 1965): 'Khaaron Se Badha Hai Jamaal-e-Gulaab/Va Gar Na 'Kanwal' Bhi Kuchh Kam Na Tha' (Thorns accentuated the beauty of a rose/ Otherwise, a lotus wasn't far behind). The 'prickly beauty' (Keatsean phrase for a rose) of a rose is its USP. Remember, anything in life is appreciated and valued in its totality. It's the comprehensiveness that creates profundity. Totality accommodates beauty as well as beasts and barbs. Thorns complete a rose and are completed by it. ------ A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Literary Festival to Propagate the Legacy of Pragjyotishpur

By Nava Thakuria, New Age Islam 22 September 2023 An intellectual and interactive treat for the literary enthusiasts, cultural connoisseurs and budding writers is waiting to emerge as Pragjyotishpur Literature Festival 2023 (PLF) which will unfold a series of literary activities for three days in the virtual capital of northeast India. The three-day literature festival, organised for the first time by Sankardev Education and Research Foundation (SERF), will kick start on 29 September at Asom Sahitya Sabha and district library premises in the heart of Guwahati city. Themed as ‘In Search of Roots’, the national-level festival is aimed at showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the land and also encouraging the young talents to rediscover and redefine the legends of Pragjyotishpur. The present-day Assam is the central part of the ancient kingdom named Pragjyotishpur (later also known as Kamrup), where its capital was located roughly in the present day Guwahati. The kingdom was spread to Jalpaiguri, Koch Behar, Bhutan hills (including some parts of Nepal), Rangpur, Sylhet, Mymensingh, Dhaka (now under Bangladesh), Tripura, Khasi & Garo hills, etc. Pragjyotishpur (meaning the eastern part of Jyotishpur) gets its mention in both the great Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata as well as in Kalika Puran, Yogini Tantra and Charyapada. Pragjyotishpur was pronounced by Lord Ram in the critical phase of his struggles after losing his wife Seeta. On the other hand, the powerful king of Pragjyotishpur, Bhagadatta fought along with the Kauravas (against Pandavas) in the battle of Mahabharata. When it came to exist as the Kamrup kingdom, legendary king Kumar Bhaskarvarman used to rule over the land. Bhaskarvarman enjoyed a dignified and mutually respected relationship with emperor Harshavardhan (of Kanauja and Thaneswara) and often sent valuable books as gifts to Harshavardhan. He was a vibrant patroniser of ancient Nalanda University, one of the greatest centres of learning across the globe. Pragjyotishpur itself was an abode of learning, publications and intellectual exercises as these were the oldest traditions and practices for the residents. Many valuable books were written in this part of the world, where Madhav Kandali’s Ramayana in a local language signifies the dimension and intellectual capacity of an author. The society used to promote the learning and redefining of general science, Ayurveda and traditional healthcare, Astrology, craftsmanship and both performing & visual arts. The residents still carry the legacy of ancient Indian culture, developed since the pre- historic days. Through the PLF initiative, the young generation will come to know and realise the greatness of ancient cultural diversities of the land. With the series of discussions, interactive sessions, thematic quiz competition and literary recitations, the unique festival is expected to mobilize the young writers to connect with their roots of civilization through literature. National Book Trust-India chairman Prof Milind Sudhakar Marathe (a recognised author-critic), Padmashree Lil Bahadur Chetri (a noted Gorkha writer), Pankaj Chaturvedi (Delhi), Suvash Chandra Satapathy from Bhubaneshwar, Bhushan Bhave from Goa, television news personality Rubika Liyaquat along with a number of distinguished writers, translators, literary critics from various parts of the country as well as northeast Bharat are gracing the occasion to add more colour to the festival. Meanwhile, pre-events to the festival were organised in Dhubri Bholanath College, Dibrugarh H Surajmall Kanoi College, Dhemaji Balika Bidyalaya, North Lakhimpur College etc with great enthusiasm from hundreds of novice writers, book-enthusiasts and promising young talents. Inspired by PLF working president Soumyadeep Datta, a few more such literary awareness programs are on the card, where the ancient civilisations of the great nation will be celebrated. PLF president Phanindra Devchoudhury expects a fruitful exercise showcasing eastern India’s rich history, culture and languages, where the literary activists will brainstorm to rediscover their own past and pave the way for a futuristic and purposeful literary works. --- Nava Thakuria is a northeast India-based professional journalist who is an engineering graduate. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Wasn’t Iqbal Wrong In Denouncing Western Style Democracy And Freedom? Hasn't His Romantic View Of Brutal Despotism In The Name Of Khilafat Radicalised Our Ulema And Youth, To The Present Ruination And Irrelevance Of Islamic Civilisation?

By Dr. Mohammad Ghitreef, New Age Islam 21September 2023 Knowledge Production In The Atmosphere Of Democracy, Liberalism, Openness, Freedom And Respect For Human Rights, Is The Fountainhead Of Western Power And Unprecedented Influence In The World Main Points: 1. Surprisingly, despite his call for reconstruction of Islamic theology, and theological views that would get any other Muslim to be denounced as a heretic, he remains the favourite philosopher of our ulema due to his regressive political views. 2. Iqbal was a superb poet, but his political views have radicalised Muslim ulema and damaged Islamic civilisation. 3. The critique of the West by Iqbal and his adherents must be carefully examined and scrutinized by all those who want Islamic civilisation to once again acquire relevance. 4. Because Western society has both advantages and disadvantages, Muslims must interact with it and should not completely reject it. ------- Dr. Muhammad Iqbal ------ Iqbal, the greatest Urdu poet, and philosopher no doubt was a genius and the greatest mind Muslim India has produced in recent times. He went to England and did his Ph.D. on “Metaphysical Roots of Iranian Tasawwuf” from Oxford. And since it was necessary to have a good knowledge of German to complete the doctorate in a Philosophical domain, that is why, he went to Germany to learn German and have a degree in it from Munich. In Germany, Iqbal encountered a beautiful and genius German woman scholar Ema Vegenast. There was a good conversation between the two on many occasions, letters were exchanged. Even after returning from Europe, Iqbal continued to write her letters from India. Some people even say that there was an affair between the two. It is possible because Iqbal married a lowly educated woman at his early age, and was not satisfied with his marital life. But here we do not have to discuss this issue. Iqbal greatly influenced Muslim thought in India and Iran as well. One of the main ideologues of 1979’s so-called Islamic revolution of Iran, Ali Shariati was very impressed by Iqbal’s Persian poetry and thought. Pakistanis wrongly and disputedly call him the ideological and visionary father of their nation. Iqbal remained in the West and experienced first-hand the merits and drawbacks of Western civilisation. Iqbal inaccurately prophesied the early death of European civilisation, as you can see in the following couplet, and was not it a self-deceit or illusion! تہماری تہذیب خودآپ اپنے ہاتهون سے خودکشی کرے گی جوشاخ نازک پہ آشیانہ بنے گا ناپائدارہوگا (Your civilization will commit suicide by its dagger, for, the house built on a fragile foundation is always weak and frail.) Though Iqbal was a thinker and a versatile philosopher yet in his political views he seems to me, tending to be a romantic and unrealistic person. He had a nostalgic approach to the obsolete Caliphate system as he was a firm believer in an autocratic rule. We can cite his famed couplet here: چاک کردی ترک ناداں نے خلافت کی قبا سادگی اپنوں کی دیکھ اوروں کی عیاری بھی دیکھ تا خلافت کی بنا دنیامیں ہوپھراستوار لاکہیں سے ڈھونڈکراسلاف کا قلب وجگر (The ignorant Turk has torn the mantle of the Caliphate, look at the simplicity of Muslims and see too the cunning of the others., bring forth the hearts of the ancestors from anywhere, so that the foundations of the Caliphate can be rebuilt again.) It must be admitted that there is aversion towards God and dislike of traditional religion in the West, the discourse of atheism is more powerful than that of religion. Atheists use Darwinian evolutionary theory to support and cement their ideology of negation of a supernatural being or creator of the Universe. Nudity and obscenity are on the rise. But there is no coercive aspect in it. That is why it fosters a culture of free thinking. And this freedom as summum bonum is a great source of strengthening Western civilization. Iqbal had read the West closely and made sharp comments on Western civilization. But the same Iqbal also remarked: نے ز از رقص زنان بے حجاب قوتِ مغرب نہ ازچنگ و رباب ازہمیں آتش چراغش روشن است قوتِ مغرب از علم و فن است (The power of the West does not come from the harp and musical tools and not from the dance of naked women. Rather the strength of the West comes from knowledge and art, their lamp is enlightened from this fire.) We see that Iqbal and his staunch follower Maulana Maududi were wrong in the assessment of Western civilization. Though Iqbal was a bit honest in confessing and giving some credit to this civilization as we quoted above. Yet in his Urdu poetry he treated Western civilization with utmost bitterness and unusual harshness as once he remarked: اٹھاکرپھینک دوباہرگلی میں نئی تہذیب کے انڈے ہیں گندے (The eggs of the new civilization are dirty so throw them out in the street) Iqbal was anti-democracy; he mocked with this polity by saying: جمہوریت وہ طرزحکومت ہے کہ جس میں بندوں کوگناکرتے ہیں تولانہیں کرتے (Democracy is a form of government in which the people are counted and not weighed) How many rivers of dust and blood has the West passed through, to reach modern democracy? How many sacrifices have its thinkers, artists, writers, and scientists made to get rid of the clutches of the tyrannical monarchy and the oppressive church, regardless of all this, democracy is a devilish curse for Iqbal, what a surprise! There is a poem in his anthology: Iblis ki Majlis Shura (Consulting body of Satan) in which Iblis(Satan) tells one of his disciples that democracy is our creation: ہم نے خودشاہی کوپہنایاہے جمہوری لباس توسمجھتاہے کہ آزادی کی ہے نیلم پری (We have worn the kingship a democratic dress, you believe that it is a beautiful Fairy of freedom!) In religious circles of Muslim masses, Iqbal has been received like a prophet, that is why, even though there are several academies and organisations in Pakistan and India specifically dedicated to studying Iqbal, it is unacceptable to criticise or examine his ideas. Iqbal’s poetry was translated into Arabic too, and through it one can trace his impact on Arab scholars and thinkers. No one can deny that the Western civilization still is a dominant civilization of our times. It is still flourishing and a leading force in the world of economy and global polity and culture. Notwithstanding the big clams of Islamists and many predictions makers for the West to be declining very soon, there is no big sign of its nearby fall or decay. Contrasting of it the house of Islam is in disorder, as many Muslim countries are always fighting each other in Asia and Africa as well. Some Mid-Eastern countries and small sheikhdoms in recent times have made a tremendous developmental drive on materialistic grounds. For example, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain Qatar, et al are witnessing an upsurge in development, prosperity, and emergence of big malls and skyscrapers, etc. Yet, this phenomenal growth and developmental model is also based on a Western capitalist model not on an Islamic model. Compare that to the occurrence of radicalization, religious dogmatism, sectarian conflict, rising intolerance, animosity towards others, and widespread religiosity devoid of a genuine spiritual or religious sense. People more frequently follow their traditional tribal cultural ethos and rituals in many Muslim cultures and refer to them as Islamic traditions, like in Afghanistan. Many YouTubers and clerics are naively converting people to false beliefs like the return of a Messiah, Mahdi, or the emergence of a monster called Dajjal, etc. Contrast this with the most palpable civilizational values of the West such as honesty, justice, equality, valuation of merit, respect of other’s faith, rule of law, freedom of expression, freedom of faith, and of course dignity of humans. These values are now very deeply rooted in Western societies and are playing a pivotal role in preventing that civilization from falling. For Maulana Maududi, who never travelled to the West and only visited America to meet his son, a doctor there, for treatment of his terminal illness, Iqbal served as an inspiration. Maulana Maududi produced a body of anti-Western writing unmatched by anybody in the modern age. He sees nothing positive in the West. He published many books since he was a skilled, eloquent, and rapid Urdu prose writer. And because there are most contemporary educated people in Jamaat-e-Islami, the hatred of the West was instilled in his audience and readers and through them to general Muslims like poison. Similarly, Syed Qutb was influenced by Maulana Maududi in the Arab world. Although he stayed in America for two years on an education tour he also saw nothing but very negative aspects of Western society as he mentioned later in his famous memoir اميركة التي رائيت (The America that I Saw). After his return and joining the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood, he lashed out against the West in his powerful Arabic prose. Both were followed by more rigid and narrow-minded Maulvies, second-hand writers, columnists, preachers, and scholars. The result was a severe kind of hatred and disgust, blended with ignorance, jealousy, and enmity toward West permeating the Muslim mindset. This enmity and negative mentality spread throughout the Muslim societies around the world. The Islamic world was ruled by European imperialism when Iqbal composed his poetry and Maududi wrote prose, thus it is but logical that their ideas were widely embraced. After that time, however, their glorification should have been stopped and their ideas ought to have been subjected to a critical and impartial examination. ----- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Dr. Mohammad Ghitreef is a Research Associate with the Centre for Promotion of Educational and Cultural Advancement of Muslims of India, AMU, Aligarh. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Did Muslim Invasions Subjugate Hindu Women?

By Ram Puniyani for New Age Islam 14 Sep 2023 Those who make these claims never explain why, even today, those in power show no interest in empowered Indian women. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons ----- The rise of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its opposition to demands for caste and gender equality raised during the freedom movement went hand in hand. When India was a ‘nation in the making’, it sought to grant equality to all, which undermined the older feudal hierarchies. While Indian nationhood sought equality for all, irrespective of caste, class and gender, those who upheld the traditional order asserted themselves, too. Muslim and Hindu conservatives often couched their backwardness in the language of religion. The Hindu-nationalist RSS created a narrative about a golden past, an age when Manu and his word were law. It also claimed that “Hindu values” meant equal status for all castes, and women had a respectable position in Hindu society. They still claim that Muslim invaders and plunderers caused a decline in these glorious values and that evil invaders cost Hindu women their prominent place in society. They even blame the cruel practice of Sati on Muslim invasions. Such ideas and claims form the core of Hindu nationalist “myth creation” about why Hindu women were restrained. The RSS Sahkaryavah, or general secretary, Krishna Gopal, repeated all such claims on 4 September when he addressed a gathering on women’s empowerment organised by an outfit called Naari Shakti Sangam. He said, “Prior to the 12th century, women were reasonably free to a great extent, but in the middle ages [India’s medieval era], a very difficult time came. The entire country was struggling with subjugation. Women were in danger. Lakhs of women were kidnapped and sold in international markets. [Ahmed Shah’ Abdali, [Mohammed] Ghori and [Mahmood of] Ghazni took women from here and sold them. It was an era of great humiliation. So, to protect our women, our society put multiple restrictions on them.” Gopal would have his listeners not just believe his justification to repress women but also that the plunder of wealth of rival kingdoms and enslavement of the conquered were restricted to Muslim invaders. Both, however, run through kingdoms and history. The Chola kings brought innumerable slaves from Sri Lanka. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s army plundered Kalyan, and Kalyan’s governor’s Muslim daughter-in-law was taken captive. The restrictions on Hindu women that Gopal refers to prevailed long before any Muslim kings set foot in South Asia—including Sati, the immolation of a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre. Women were deprived of property and education due to the social norms prevailing in early India. In the Mahabharata, there are accounts of Pandu’s wife Madri and Lord Krishna’s father Vasudev’s four wives burning themselves to death after their husbands died. The subordination of women was due to patriarchy, influenced by sentiments such as clan superiority, and both factors had a crucial role in Sati. As per the historian Romila Thapar, the significant factors in the rise of Sati were the subordination of women in patriarchal society, the changing “systems of kinship”, and the desire to exert “control over female sexuality”. According to most historians of repute, Sati originated within the Kshatriya aristocracy and remained limited mainly to the so-called warrior classes among Hindus. The decline of trade and commerce in the post-Gupta period in Indian history is among the critical reasons for the decline in the status of women. They were prohibited from education; child marriage increasingly became the norm; widow remarriage was prohibited; occurrences of the dreadful practice of Sati grew, too. Before this period, Sati was an occasional phenomenon. How does RSS deal with the issue? An exclusively male organisation, it promoted the Rashtra Sevika Samiti as a subordinate outfit. Its very name reflects the Hindu nationalist outlook on gender, for the word Swayam (being, self) is missing from its name, and the word Sevika—service—is included instead. The Rashtra Sevika Samiti has been preaching to its women followers total support of the subordinate position of women. Vijaya Raje Scindia, vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the political offshoot of the RSS, took out a morcha to Parliament to support Sati in the aftermath of the Roopkawar sati case. That was when Parliament was discussing a new law to curb this practice. Scindia believed committing Sati was a “glorious” tradition and the right of Hindu women. In April 1994, Mridula Sinha, a top leader of the Samiti, who later became the Governor of Goa, advised Hindu women in an interview with Savvy magazine to “adjust” if her husband beats her—for she could have “provoked” the assault. She also defended dowry—“my father bought me a husband in just Rs 5,000”—and said women must not work outside the home unless it is a dire necessity. We also recall former RSS prachark Pramod Muthalik, members of whose outfit, the Sri Ram Sene, were recorded on camera beating girls leaving a pub in Mangalore, Karnataka, in 2009. The outfit was later acquitted, and the police investigation came under the scanner. Thrashing young couples on St Valentine’s Day is a regular feature of the Bajrang Dal, another RSS-related outfit. On 10 November 2020, Goa Police registered an FIR against Shilpa Singh, an assistant professor at a law college, for allegedly “outraging religious sentiments” by comparing the mangalsutra worn by married women to a dog’s chain. The RSS’s student outfit, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, complained to the college authorities. The BJP government recently honoured the Gita Press with the Gandhi Peace Prize, but it, too, peddled values parallel to the RSS’s beliefs. The Gita Press has been rehashing the Manusmriti’s values on caste and gender issues for decades. Many books from this press advise Hindu women to remain subordinated to men, and give women a litany of advice. Some of these books are Nari Shiksha [Education of Women] by Hanuman Prasad Poddar, Grahsth Mein Kaise Rahen [How to Lead a Household Life] by Swami Ramsukhdas, Striyon ke Liye Kartawya Shiksha [Education on the Duties of Women] and Nari Dharm [Duties of Women] by Jai Dayal Goyandka are few of them. To top it, the RSS and its affiliate outfits aggressively campaign against their own make-believe’ love Jihad’. It is nothing but an effort to control Hindu women by targeting Muslims. On the pretext of love Jihad, these organisations go house to house advising the Hindu parents and male relatives to “keep an eye on girls”. The historian Charu Gupta wrote in 2009, “Whether it is 1920 or 2009, Hindu patriarchal notions appear deeply entrenched. In both campaigns, images of passive victimised Hindu women at the hands of inscrutable Muslims abound, and any possibility of women exercising their legitimate right to love and their right to choice is ignored.” The latest from the RSS leadership is yet another reiteration of their unshakable faith in patriarchy. That is why they blame all ills of Hindu society on external factors and hide behind the social structures and the scriptures that promote these problems. ----- Ram Puniyani is a human rights activist. The views are personal. Source: Did Muslim Invasions Subjugate Hindu Women? 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

Remembering Kader Khan In These Horrendous Times Of Degenerated Languages

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 21 September 2023 A few days ago, I bumped into an actor in Poona who was once a student of actor-comedian Kader Khan. Khan taught him Urdu diction and the nuances of the language. The Hindi of that actor was passable and his Urdu was tolerable, considering the general level of Hindi and Urdu spoken by the film stars who just cannot read scripts in Devanagari, let alone Urdu. When that actor mentioned the name of Kader Khan, a deluge of memories overwhelmed me. Actor And Script-Writer Kader Khan ------ Till 2010, people of Poona would often see the late actor and script-writer Kader Khan have a stroll at Koregaon Park, Wanowrie and Kondhwa of Poona. Kader Khan loved Poona and its ambience. Though ostensibly gregarious, Kader Khan's real-life persona was diametrically opposite of his image on the marquee, where he appeared to be a comedian and at times, a tad frivolous. An extremely well-read man, Kader Khan would always carry a fat notebook and a book of poetry. Though he had an Engineering degree and taught at a College in Bombay, his first love was literature and one would always find him engrossed in reading and writing. While teaching at a reputable film institute, where he briefly taught dialogue delivery, he'd begin his lecture with the standard refrain: 'Aap Jo Zabaan Bol Aur Sun Rahe Hain Woh Adab Se Koson Door Hai. Yeh Bambai Ki Zabaan Hai Aur Aap Ko Adabi Zabaan Seekhni Hai' (The language you speak and hear is miles away from literature. It's Bombay's lingo and you're expected to learn standard language). Kader would regale his students with jokes but not a single joke was vulgar or had a double meaning. I once asked him, " Why did he never use puns in classrooms the way he spontaneously used them on the silver screen? " His answer made me think, "Ye Atfaal-E-Naadaan Hain. Inhein Abhi Se Zabaan Ka Naazeb Pahloo Dikhana Mere Zameer Ke Khilaaf Hai" (The students are very young and impressionable. I don't want to show them the not-so-refined aspect of a language). He'd often say that there were other better things to learn about a language than learning the tongue-in-cheek expressions. That was his nobility very few are aware of. Hailing from Kabul, Kader had an enviable command of Pashto, Arabic and of course, Urdu. His English was also excellent. Despite being so famous and respectable, he was disarmingly modest and would never hesitate to call me up whenever he'd baulk at a Pashto or Dari (Afghan variant of Persian) word, knowing that I learnt and spoke the languages like a native speaker. Kader Khan would often say, "Main Apne Naam Ko Jeeta Hoon" (I live up to my name). Though his name in Arabic, predominantly means 'Powerful' (Qadir), it also means 'green' and 'innocence.' He had both. His ideas were forever verdant and he had a childlike innocence. Interestingly, Kader in Pashto means 'unfazed' and 'unperturbed.' He was truly unperturbed. Despite having seen so many upheavals in life, he remained unfazed and would often say, "Zindagi Jahad-e-Musalsal Hai Tamasha Toh Nahin/ Jeene Waale Hi Rahte Hain Toofaan Ke Qareeb" (Life is a perpetual strife. It's not a charade. Those who love live to the hilt live cheek-by-jowl with the tempests). One more endearing quality of Kader Khan was his accessibility. Anyone could approach him and ask for autographs. His interactions were always peppered with apt and apposite Urdu, Persian and Arabic couplets and he'd immediately render them into his flawless English. But he seldom flaunted his mastery over English, which I believe was as good as that of a professor of English language. Kader called himself a teacher, a teacher of languages. Bad language would get his goat and fine language would evoke his admiration. Though I didn't meet him frequently in Poona, whenever we'd meet, we shall discuss all things barring cinema and his dialogues!! But he's hardly remembered today. By the way, he felt very lonely towards the fag-end of his life. He passed away in Toronto on December 31, 2018. In these rotten times of WhatsApp language when even leading newspapers are fraught with grammatical and orthographic errors, when almost everyone writes and speaks weirdly, I ruefully remember Kader Khan and his love for languages. Alas, no one speaks that way. ------ A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Muslim Women's Uncovered Face Poses Threat to Islam in The East and The Veil to Secularism in The West

By New Age Islam Staff Writer 20 September 2023 Contradictory Interpretations of Veil in The Islamic World Have Put Muslim Women in A Difficult Situation Main Points: 1. Iran's Mahsa Amini was killed by Morality Police for improperly covering her head. 2. Taliban have made full covering veil mandatory for all women. 3. France has banned Abaya in schools. 4. Egypt has banned niqab in schools and public places. ----- Last week, Egypt and France took a similar decision on veil of women. While France, a non-Muslim majority country imposed a ban on abaya, an Islamic dress for women, Egypt, an Islamic country also imposed a ban on niqab, a face covering dress of women. In Afghanistan, women have been ordered to wear full covering niqab in public. They have been barred from going to schools and colleges on the ground that it will facilitate the mixing of genders in society. In Iran, women have been protesting against the laws mandating wearing of head covering veil. Muslim women across the globe have been grappling with the governments of the East and West as they have their own views and approach to the Islamic dress. While the Islamic countries are divided on the justification of veil or niqab, the western countries like France see the abaya, an Islamic dress as a threat to secularism. While announcing the ban on abaya, the Education Minister of France, Gabriel Attal said that abaya made students look different and identifiable and goes against the principles of secularism. In 2004, the government had banned the wearing of ostensibly religious symbols in schools. This included the Islamic headscarf, Jewish Kippas, Sikh turbans and Christian cross. Now the French government has included abaya in the list of banned dress. However, from what the government spokesperson, Olivier Veran said, it becomes evident that the French government has other reasons to ban Abaya. He said that abaya was obviously a religious garment and a political attack, a political sign of proselytising or an act of trying to convert to Islam. His statement betrays the fear that abaya may cause conversion to Islam and that a woman wearing an abaya was unknowingly committing an act of proselytization. It may seem ridiculous but this is how a government spokesperson of France sees abaya. If this is really so then a Muslim man with a beard and skull cap may be considered committing an act of proselytising or trying to convert Christians to Islam. The opposition parties do not support this view of the government. The opposition party Le France Insoumise calls this government "clothes police". Its leader Clementine Autain said that this law was characteristic if obsessional rejection of Muslims. Muslims Abaya is not a face covering dress. It is a loose dress covering the full body while the face is uncovered. However, it is an Arab dress and popular among Arab immigrants in France and speaks of the influence of the Arab culture in France. Around the same time, the Education Ministry of Egypt banned full covering niqab in schools and public places. It also made head scarf optional, depending on the wish of the pupil without pressure from guardians or hardline Islamic organisations that promote niqab. In Egypt, women generally wear headscarf and a minority of women belonging to ultraconservative society wear niqab. The government order has been greeted by many as the government has given women a choice over veils. They may wear hijab or go without it. The government won’t interfere with their choice of veil. The government has also made it clear that it would not decide as to what extent the women cover their hair. It should be recalled that last year, a Kurd woman of Iran, Mahsa Amini, 22, was killed by the Morality Police for inappropriately wearing the hijab. She had not fully covered her hair while she was with her brother in a park in Tehran. Her death had sparked a wave of protests across Iran and women had defied the veil. They had burned their headscarves. The protests still continue. Now, celebrities like actors, doctors, businessmen activists have joined the movement. The famous senior actress of Iran, Afsana Bayegan repeatedly posted photos of her unveiled her on Instagram. However, the government also does not show signs of giving in and has been contemplating different ways to supress the movement. Now, the government has started to declare these women as suffering from psychiatric disorders and sending them to psychological centres for psychotherapy apart from sending them to jail. Actress Afsaneh Bayegan ------ Afsana Bayegan, 61, has been given two-year suspended prison sentence and has been ordered by the court to visit the psychological centre once a week. Ridiculously, the judge has diagnosed her with a disease called "anti-family personality disorder". Another woman named Azadeh Samadi has been diagnosed by the judges with "anti-social personality disorder". A Tehran court diagnosed another woman who had not worn a veil with "contagious psychological disorder" that leads to sexual promiscuity and has sentenced her to two months in imprisonment and six months of psychological treatment. The Iranian government has not been able to supress the movement of the women and therefore, plans to bring a stricter law to punish protesting women. The law may be passed in two months. Under this law, the protesters and violators of the Hijab Law may be sentenced to 5 to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of 8,508 dollars. The government will use artificial intelligence to identify protesting women. Cameras will be installed in public places to identify women without hijab. The fight of Iranian women for freedom of dress did not start last year. It had started soon after Khamenei became the spiritual head of the country after the 1979 revolution. Soon after assuming power, he had mandated hijab in public places. The women had protested this decree. The Article 368 of Iran's Constitution is known as hijab law. This law has become a symbol of oppression of women. Sarah Baoobandi, a Marie Curie Fellow at German Institute for Global and Area Studies in Hamburg writes: "Across the world, the hijab is a personal choice made by women. In Iran, however, it was transformed into a symbol of oppression and marginalisation. The current rejection of hijab by Iranian protesters, therefore, does not necessarily equal a rejection of Islam or Islamic values. Rather it represents the anger and frustration of the people ---namely women who have been deprived of their basic freedom of choice for decades. " It can be concluded, therefore, that the West sees the veil or abaya as a threat to secularism and the Islamic world sees the uncovered face and hair of women as a threat to Islam. The Muslim women face a difficult phase and have a long battle ahead. 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

Clerical Institutions and Individual Ulema Giving Fatwas on All and Sundry Issues Is a New Phenomenon; It Has No Place in Traditional Islamic Theological or Juristic Practices

By Dr. Javed Akhatar, New Age Islam 20 September 2023 The Problem of Religious Guidance of Indian Muslims (A Forward-Thinking Proposal) ----- (This is an English rendition of the Urdu article ‘Hindustani Musalmano ki Dini Rehnumai ka Masla-Ek Tajwiz authored by Professor Mushirul Haq in 1978) Currently, a peculiar situation has emerged for the Muslims of India. Leaders are conspicuously present everywhere, yet a clear path remains elusive. The challenge lies in the fact that even in matters of faith, a definitive course of action is missing. It is undeniable that in nearly every city, and indeed in every significant town, there exist Ulema and institutions that tirelessly offer counsel to those seeking guidance on religious matters through their legal decrees or jurisprudential judgments (fatwas). Nevertheless, this accessibility or convenience has, in a sense, given rise to a condition of 'abundant guidance' at a national scale. As all the religious institutions in the country and individual muftis (qualified legal scholars) do not acknowledge any authority beyond God, whose verdict is regarded as ultimate and conclusive, more often than not, a state of chaos ensues rather than genuine guidance. Even without providing specific examples, one can confidently assert that, if necessary, two entirely contradictory fatwas can be easily obtained within a single issue. I wish to emphasize that the disparity in these responses is in no way a reflection of the muftis' intentions. Rather, the main issue lies hidden in the current flawed methodology of Ifta (the issuance of formal legal opinions). The Mufti is bound by the wording of the Istifta (the inquiry seeking a fatwa). He is obligated to respond based on the phrasing used in the Istifta sent to him. It is not within the purview of a Mufti to assume that he must personally investigate the events described in the Istifta before issuing a fatwa from his own perspective. Is this a deficiency inherent to the Mufti or is it a characteristic intrinsic to the structure of the 'institution' of Ifta itself, such that the Mufti himself cannot independently assume the role of an investigator? The history reveals that during the early days of Islam, there existed no formal institution tasked with issuing fatwas. Individuals would turn to the Sahaba (Companions of the Prophet) initially, and later to the Imams, seeking guidance. However, as time passed, with the establishment of various branches of Islamic governance and the formation of courts by both central and provincial authorities, where qazis (judges) were appointed to preside over and adjudicate cases on behalf of the Caliphs, it became evident that the qazi need not be intimately familiar with every minutia or facet of a case. Consequently, a class of scholars known as Muftis emerged, possessing a meticulous understanding of jurisprudential intricacies. Their primary role was to furnish legal assistance to the qazis whenever required. It can be likened to the contemporary practice where every court is equipped with a law library, varying in size, and, similarly, during that era, the Muftis served as a portable repository of legal knowledge for the Qazis. Ulema who were not affiliated with the court lacked the authority to formally issue fatwas. There was only one exception to this rule: when even non-judicial Ulema were free to issue a fatwa, and that was in the case of a rebellion against the ruling king. In the annals of Islamic India, we come across numerous distinguished Ulema, but their mention is not limited to being muftis. It was during the nineteenth century, as the East India Company firmly established its presence on this soil and appointed qazis with restricted authority in different locales, then people began turning to independent Ulema, untethered from the Company's employ, for seeking guidance. It is for this reason the abundance of fatwas that we have at our disposal from Indian Ulema of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries may perhaps surpass the combined number of fatawas found throughout the entire history of Muslim India. While some may argue that Fatawas from the pre-nineteenth century might not have been preserved in written from, but from a scholarly and historical perspective, this excuse holds no weight. Muslims have preserved their intellectual heritage throughout every era. In Islamic India, an extensive body of literature spanning various sciences and arts has been composed. Even if not every work has been preserved, a substantial number remains accessible. Thus, why presume that only the compilation of Fatawas has vanished? We have well preserved almost every single line written by Shah Waliullah with us now. But there must be some reason that why we do not find anything by the name of ‘Majmua-e-Fatawa Hazrat Shah Waliullah,’ (the collection of Fatawa-e-Shah Waliullah) whereas the Fatawas of his son Shah Abdul Aziz are present in front of us in two bulky volumes. Similarly, Sheikh Abdul Haq Mohaddis Dehlawi did not leave behind any compilation of his Fatawas. However, in the 19th century, Miyan Nazir Hussain Mohaddis Dehlawi left his Fatawas in the form of a thick compilation with us. This does not mean to imply that before the 19th century, no work was done on the subject of Fatawas in India. Contrary to this, the fatwas of the Sultanate period, known as ‘Fatawa-e-Tatarkhaniyah,’ and the ‘Fatawa-e-Alamgiri’ of the Mughal era, continue to wield significant authority in both India and the wider Islamic world, representing the enduring contributions of Islamic India. But these two collections of Fatawas unlike the later collections were compiled by the (Islamic) government. I think the situation might have unfolded differently had the East India Company arrived in India as rulers rather than traders. Up until that time, it was customary to disregard the fatwas issued by non-judicial Muftis. Therefore, if the company had wanted, they could have compelled people to adhere to the fatwas pronounced by the Qazis and muftis appointed by the Company, even if they were perceived as unjust. This would have been in line with the Persian saying, "Qahr-e-Darvesh Bar-Jaan-e-Darvesh" (endurance is the only remedy when there's no cure). However, as the Company initially prioritized their trade interests over religious matters, they opted to keep religious courts intact while refraining from imposing any restrictions that might inhibit Ulema from issuing individual fatwas. This policy resulted in an accumulation of intellectual wealth, albeit at a substantial cost. Subsequently, the central authority for issuing fatwas ceased to exist, and in religious matters, every Ulema began to assert themselves as the ultimate authority. Regardless, it is now an established fact that no Ulema in the entire country hold central authority, nor does any institution. Every scholar is at liberty to issue a fatwa. We acknowledge a fatwa only when it aligns with our desired stance. When we do not receive a favourable response (fatwa), we promptly seek the opinion of another mufti. As I pointed out earlier, juxtaposing a single issue with multiple solutions, supported by jurisprudential reasoning, and obtaining two different resolutions is not a difficult task. Moreover, the decision to accept or reject these Fatawas rests solely on our discretion, as a Mufti or Darul Ifta (Islamic legal advisory body) does not possess the authority to enforce their fatwas. Today, aside from the Indian subcontinent, it is rare to find any other country in the world where Ulema have the freedom to independently issue fatwas on social matters. Fatwas can only be issued through government-approved religious institutions. While I cannot speak for the entire world, based on my current knowledge, I can assert with confidence that in Malaysia, issuing fatwas individually is considered a punishable offense. Even in the Islamic nations of the Arab world, no Ulema possess the authority to issue fatwas independently. If individuals seek to expand their knowledge or gain personal insights, they may inquire of the Ulema, but it is only the "Mufti" officially designated by the government who holds the authority to release fatwas. Today, the global community finds itself amidst a period of 'Ilmi Niraaj,' characterized by a form of ‘scientific anarchy.’ This is why individuals across the spectrum feel entitled to express their perspectives on Islam. Given this context, the objection raised by our Ulema holds significant merit: not every newcomer should be permitted to weigh in on religious affairs. However, it is equally crucial to contemplate why every Ulema should be afforded the chance to issue fatwas. Currently, especially in the context of India and considering the prevailing situation, it is crucial that we broaden the scope of ijtihad (independent reasoning) beyond a limited set of social and economic issues. The correct formation of the central committee of Darul Ifta is presently a crucial issue within the realm of ijtihad, and it is intricately linked to the functioning of Ifta. Where you have to make a wide range of ijtihad, then this matter too has been resolved through ijtihad as to whether the authority to issue fatwas should be entrusted to any centralized body or by allowing each Ulema to exercise this prerogative independently. In my view, the latter option could have disastrous consequences. Without centralizing the authority for issuing fatwas, as opposed to granting independent jurisdiction to any Ulema, we may find ourselves unable to transcend the discord on a national scale. Hence, I recommend entrusting the authority to issue fatwas to a high central council of Muslims. This council should comprise Ulema from diverse schools of thought, possessing profound understanding and expertise in various jurisprudential traditions, additionally, it should include Muslim intellectuals well-versed in contemporary issues, ensuring equal participation. Within this central council’s framework, there ought to exist smaller local councils at the regional level across different states. The central council should function as a conduit for delegating the responsibilities akin to mujtahids, who engage in independent juristic reasoning. Conversely, the local councils should operate akin to muftis, offering guidance specific to their respective regions. The local councils may issue fatwas in matters concerning religious rituals, while remaining bound by the decisions of the central council in affairs related to Mamlaat (commercial, civil matters, or dealings). We can illustrate this distinction with an example: Imagine a Hanafi Sunni Muslim seeking a religious ruling (fatwa) from the local council regarding the practice of washing feet during ablution (wudu). According to the Hanafi school of thought, the council must assert that, just as hands and mouth are washed, feet must also be washed for the prayer to be considered valid. Conversely, if the seeker adheres to the Shia school of thought, the council would affirm that simply wiping over the feet suffices for the prayer to be deemed valid. However, when addressing matters such as interest-based loans, life insurance, unit trusts, photography, and other similar social issues, this council will issue fatwas based on the decisions of the central council, without taking into account the jurisprudential school of thought of the inquirer. Allow me to say at this stage that the establishment of councils alone is not the remedy for our chaotic condition. Any council that lacks the legal authority to enforce its decisions on the public is merely a futile waste of time. Due to the absence of ‘executive power’, I have witnessed the formation and dissolution of several councils. Not long ago, Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama also formed a similar council. During the same period, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind also announced the establishment of a council. Regarding the authorized council of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, I cannot say with certainty. However, the council of Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama had also deliberated on some important issues and had published its revolutionary decisions. But since the council did not have the power of enforcement, its decisions could not gain acceptance either in the realm of Ulema or among the public. Therefore, before the formation of any council, we shall have to open the door to ijtihad in “Islamic Political Theory” as well. We must reexamine the debate surrounding ‘Dar al-Islam’ (the abode of peace) and ‘Dar al-Harb’ (the abode of war) in order to define the identity of the new India. Currently, this issue pertains exclusively to India, devoid of international or pan-Islamic dimensions. It is imperative that the Indian Ulema and Muslim intellectuals take the lead in resolving it. Just as in our historical narrative, amidst evolving circumstances, certain ‘institutions’ have emerged and faded away, similarly, even today, a new ‘institution’ may be established, considering the contemporary demands of democracy, to delineate the status of a Muslim individual. Upon careful deliberation, we may come to the realization that India is a realm where there exists neither ruler nor subject, but rather a shared and equal ownership among all. In such a scenario, it might be plausible to propose the formation of a Council duly recognized by the Parliament, devoid of any Shariah objection. This could potentially establish that only decisions made by the accredited Council in India hold the authority to issue fatwas. ------ Javed Akhatar is Assistant Professor (Contractual), Department of Islamic Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia 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

Anjum Rahbar: A Poetess Readers Can Relate To

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 20 September 2023 "Shayari Toh Auratein Bhi Bakhoobi Karti Hain Magar Aksar Ye Sehra Mardon Ke Sar Bandhta Hai" Ahteshaam Rizvi, Pakistani Urdu critic (Women also write poetry with aplomb/ But the credit often goes to men / male poets) "Sach Baat Maan Leejiye, Chehre Pe Dhool Hai Ilzaam Ainon Pe Lagana Fuzool Hai" Anjum Rahbar (Accept that the lineaments are dusty/ Holding the mirror responsible is of no use) September 17 was Anjum Rahbar's Birth Anniversary. ----- Fahmida Riaz, Ada Jafri, Zehra Nigah, Bushra Farrukh, Kishwar Naheed, Parveen Shakir and many more female Urdu poets have enriched the landscape of Urdu poetry with their deep(er) sensibilities, resilience and empathy. Yet, unfortunately, male poets have always got more acclaim than their female counterparts. That may be attributed to our patriarchal mindset. Anyway, one Urdu poetess who effortlessly joins the elite and august constellation of the abovementioned female poets is Anjum Rahbar, whose birthday fell on September 17. Though she's often introduced as a popular mushaira poetess, it sounds a tad derogatory. This suggests as if she plays to the gallery and lacks depth. That's not correct. Granted, her poetry doesn't have that metaphysical or philosophical profundity, what she conveys through her poetry enters the heart and stirs the emotions. For example, "Maine Ye Soch Kar Dil De Diya Use/ Dil Kisi Ka Dukhana Nahin Chahiye" (I gave away my heart to him, thinking that one mustn't hurt anyone) or "Dafna Diya Gaya Mujhe Chaandi Ki Qabra Mein/ Main Jis Ko Chahti Thi Woh Ladka Ghareeb Tha" (I was buried in a silver tomb/ Whom I liked was a poor boy). You can relate to these couplets instantaneously and strike a quick rapport with the poetess and her crafts(wo)manship. Those who love Anjum's poetry will unanimously say that this couplet is by far her best. All women in love will be able to relate to it: "Hai Ta'alluq Toh Ana Chhodni Hogi Ek Din/ Tujh Se Roothi Hoon, Tujhe Aake Manana Hoga" (If there's a bond, you must part ways with your ego/ If I'm angry with you, you shall have to come and patch up). "Milna Tha Ittifaaq, Bichhadna Naseeb Tha/ Woh Utni Door Ho Gaya Jitna Qareeb Tha" (Meeting was a coincidence, separation was destined/ He went as far away as he was close to me). This Sher of Anjum Rahbar empathises with all lovelorn and jilted hearts. I particularly love her couplet, "Tujh Ko Duniya Ke Saath Chalna Hai/ Tu Mere Saath Chal Na Paayega" (You've to walk along the world/ You cannot accompany me). This reminds me of Khumaar Barabankwi's famous couplet, "Ye Wafa Ki Sakht Raahein, Ye Tumhare Paa-E-Nazuk/ Na Lo Intiqaam Mujh Se Mere Saath-Saath Chal Ke" (The path of love is hard and harsh and your feet are tender/ Don't take a revenge by going along with me). By the way, Khumaar Barabankwi was born on September 15. Anjum is a poetess with a refined taste and a sense of aesthetics. This couplet vindicates my observation: Kal Shaam Chhat Pe Mir Taqi Mir Ki Ghazal / Main Gunguna Rahi Thi Ke Tum Yaad Aa Gaye (While I was humming the ghazal of Mir Taqi Mir strolling on the roof/ Your memory suddenly sprang to mind). May this Bhopal-based Urdu-Hindi poetess scale dizzying heights of success. ------- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism