Friday, June 30, 2023

Saudi Arabia Promotes Wahhabism And Militant Islam Not Only In Islamic Countries But Also In Western Countries

New Age Islam Staff Writer 30 June 2023 Egyptian Islamic scholar Abou El Fadl fights Saudi Wahhabism in the West Main Points: 1. Saudi Arabia Wahhabised once moderate Al Azhar. 2. It subsidised publications on militant Islam. 3. It offered grants of millions of dollars to scholars promoting Wahhabism. 4. It supported Al Qaradawi who defended suicide bombings. 5. Saudi Arabia granted millions of dollars to western universities to start 'Arab Studies'. Abou El Fadl is a scholar of Islam ----- The story of an Egyptian Islamic scholar Abou El Fadl gives an insight into the Saudi Arabia's efforts to promote Wahhabism the intolerant school of Islam, not only in Muslim majority countries but also in the West. To achieve its objective, it pumps millions of dollars in publication of books on militant Islam that justifies suicide bombings, on construction of mosques throughout the world and Islamic Studies Departments in the universities of the West. On the other hand, the Saudis silence the critics of Wahhabism either by luring them into its fold by offering large amount of grants or by making them disappear. Abou El Fadl is a scholar of Islam who belongs to Cairo of Egypt and has studied in Yale. He has also studied Islamic jurisprudence and has done research work on hadith authentication. He believes in the democratic values of Islam and is worried about the ascendance of Wahhabism not only in the Islamic countries but also in the West thanks to Saudi money. Ahlal Hadith, following the Wahhabi ideology was promoted by the Saudi government. Abou El Fadl belongs to the Usuli school of Islamic thought that is a conservative tradition and believes that the Islamic sharia should only be built on edicts that are unambiguously stated in the Quran and the Sunnah. This principle will minimise the chances of the opinions and interpretations of extremist Islamic jurists and exegetes being included as Sharia laws. Since, the Quran and Sunnah do not justify violence, gender discrimination and persecution of minorities, the militant and intolerant sects and the scholars associated with use the interpretations of extremist exegetes to justify their militant and intolerant ideas. While studying in the US, Abou El Fadl started writing articles on Islam which were published by a magazine named Minaret. He also wrote two books: And God Knows, and Speaking in God's Name. His writings disturbed the Saudi system that had been promoting Wahhabi brand of Islam. He realised that Islam had been rendered subservient to political expedience. He started an academic and intellectual campaign against Wahhabism. He became an active member of an international movement of Muslim intellectuals who opposed Wahhabism. The group included Egyptian jurist Muhammad Imara, Italian Imam Abdul Hadi Palazzi and Syrian theologian Mohammad Shebrour. During these years, he came to know that the renowned Egyptian theologian Al Qaradawi defended suicide bombings. He participated in a debate in Qatar along with Al Qaradawi in which he pointed out inconsistencies in his arguments in favour of suicide bombings. Over the years, Al Azhar university was turned into a centre of Wahhabi school of Islam and most of Azharis have become supporters of Wahhabism. Those who do not toe the official line are expelled on various pretexts. Some are tortured and harassed until they start supporting militant Islam. Abou El Fadhl observed that the spread of Wahhabism in the East and the West was rapid because of huge Saudi money that was difficult to refuse. Some western scholars like Vogel embraced and taught Wahhabism because they have no qualms about accepting Saudi money. Abou El Fadl was tortured for his anti-Wahhabi ideas and for his books on the topic. In 1985, when he returned to Cairo after finishing his first year in Yale University, he was picked up by plainclothes policemen and tortured. He was suspended by the ceiling and for hours and given electric shock. He was then transferred to a desert prison. After being released, he returned to the US. But he found that the Muslim community of the US has also been Wahhabised. The Muslims there did not tolerate any criticism of the clergy and their militant ideas. This was thanks to the Saudi money pumped into the universities of the US to promote the studies of Wahhabism on the pretext of promoting the studies of Islam. For example, Oxford University got $30 million for its Islamic Studies 1994, University of Arkansas got $ 20 million grant to begin King Fahd Programme for Middle Eastern Studies. U.C. Berkeley got grant of $5 million for Sultan bin Abdel Aziz Programme for Arab Studies. Harvard University got $5 million for the Chair of Islamic Legal Study chaired by Professor Vogel. Apart from all this, Saudi Arabia also offers millions of dollars to scholars to write books on its desired version of Islam. It also spends huge money on publication of books and on conferences refuting books against Wahhabism. When Abou El Fadl wrote a book The Sunnah of the Prophet: Between the Legists and Traditionalists, the Saudi Arabia subsidised the publication of seven books and held three conferences to trash his arguments against Wahhabism. While his stay in the United States, he got offers from Saudi government to write a book on Islam on the condition that the government will hold the right to edit. He turned down the offer. Next he was offered nomination of $2,00,000 King Faisal Award. When all these efforts of the Saudi government failed, he started getting death threats from Muslims in the United States. On two occasions, he was attacked. He feels that the Saudi contribution has exacerbated the shift in Middle Eastern studies away from critical, secular analyses of modernisation towards celebration of Islamic civil society. Today, the West has witnessed a rise in militant Islam because of the promotion of Wahhabism and extremist Islamic ideology on university level. Muslims graduating from these universities spread the violent ideology including the idea of suicide bombing as a means of protest and fight against injustice. These graduates join Islamic centres and mosques in the US, Germany, France and elsewhere and preach violence and present the followers of other religion as the enemies of Islam. Abou El Fadl's story is a case study of how the Saudi Arabia has spread the violent ideology in the East and the West with the power of its oil and tarnished the image of Islam. ----- Moral Hazard By Franklin Foer November 18, 2002 The death threats began shortly after September 11, 2001. Every few days, for about four months, Khaled Abou El Fadl would receive an angry, anonymous phone call at either his San Fernando Valley home or his UCLA office. In his e-mail inbox, he found ominous messages from obscured sources with warnings such as, "You know what we're capable of." At first, the pudgy, 39- year-old professor of Islamic jurisprudence dismissed the calls as harmless outbursts at a tense moment. But, as the fall of 2001 progressed, Abou El Fadl began suspecting that the threats were more serious than he had initially assumed. Twice in November, he noticed a van that inexplicably lingered outside of his relatively isolated home but then disappeared after he called the police. A few months later, he found the windows of his family's SUV smashed at a crowded movie theater parking lot. Neither the radio nor the cash in the car had been stolen; no other vehicle in the lot had been touched. When he brought these incidents to the attention of police, they requested-- and he granted--permission to tap his home phone. UCLA installed a red panic button next to his desk, ensuring that campus cops could respond within minutes to any crisis in his office. The FBI even assigned an agent to track down his tormenters. (To date, they have not been found.) All of this might sound like the prelude to a textbook hate crime, but the Abou El Fadl case has a twist: The callers weren't angry white men accusing him of terrorist sympathies; they were fellow Muslim Americans accusing him of selling out the faith. On September 14, 2001, Abou El Fadl had published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. Many Muslim Americans had condemned the week's attacks as un- Islamic. But Abou El Fadl felt this response amounted to an evasion. The attacks, he worried, didn't represent a deviation from mainstream Islam; they reflected a crisis at the core of the faith, the logical conclusion of "a puritanical and ethically oblivious form of Islam [that] has predominated since the 1970s." Centuries of Islamic intellectual development had been destroyed by the "rampant apologetics" of Muslim thinkers, which had "produced a culture that eschews self-critical and introspective insight and embraces projection of blame and a fantasy-like level of confidence and arrogance." Abou El Fadl had, for years, made essentially the same argument in his scholarly writings, particularly the books And God Knows the Soldiers (1997) and Speaking in God's Name (2001). With imams justifying suicide bombings in Israel and elsewhere, Abou El Fadl had voiced concern that Islam had been "rendered subservient to political expedience and symbolic displays of power." And he'd railed against the ascendance of Wahhabism, a rigidly puritanical brand of Islam exported and subsidized by the government of Saudi Arabia. The Wahhabis insist that Islam must recover the practices of the "golden age"--the decades that followed the prophet's death--and dismiss subsequent centuries of interpretation and intellectual exploration as devilish sophistry. It is that thoughtful, pluralist tradition that Abou El Fadl wants to recover, an "ethos where the numerous traditions ... emphasiz[ed] that pursuit of knowledge is an act of permanent worship." Whereas the thrust of modern Christian history has been toward decentralization, Sunni Islam has undergone a rapid period of theological consolidation. In the faith's first century and a half, Abou El Fadl estimates that 135 legal schools competed to influence the religion. Even up until the last part of this century, Greek-inspired rationalists (Mu’tazila) argued against puritanical literalists (ahl-al-hadith) and strict constructionists (usulis). But with Saudi money, and in the guise of Wahhabism, the ahl-al- hadith have of late won the upper hand. And, unlike other traditions that accommodate dissenting views, the Wahhabis claim to possess an undebatable vision of "true Islam." Abou El Fadl, by contrast, comes from the ever- shrinking usuli school. As he describes usulism, it is a conservative tradition. To protect the Quran's integrity, usulis impose a stiff test for the derivation of God's laws. For edicts to carry divine imprimatur, they must be unambiguously stated in the Quran or Sunna (the body of literature that includes the sayings and biography of the prophet). "You have to be willing to bet your soul that law is God's will," he argues. "Otherwise you might be guilty of arrogance in the eyes of God." Paradoxically, the usulis' theological conservatism makes them quite liberal relative to much of the current Muslim world. While Wahhabis assert the necessity of veiling women, for example, Abou El Fadl and other usulis point to texts casting doubt on God's intention that women's faces be constantly covered. (The Quran urges the veil specifically to protect against molestation, notes Abou El Fadl; if there's no threat of molestation, there's no need for the veil. ) Likewise, the usulis reject many of the Wahhabis' other proscriptions-- guidelines for sex, prohibitions against keeping pet dogs and women attending funerals--as passages plucked from context that ignore vast chunks of the holy books. But what bothers Abou El Fadl most about Wahhabism isn't simply its textual distortions. It is the tradition's denigration of morality, which the Wahhabis argue shouldn't affect the implementation of Quranic law. Abou El Fadl insists that his usuli tradition naturally leads Islam to an ethical humanism-- a set of ideas about justice and beauty that help to achieve God's will. "If the intent and moral vision do not exist, then the rules become meaningless pedantry," he argues. Indeed, he considers much of modern Islam to be a tyranny of the picayune. As he wrote in the introduction to his 2001 collection of essays Conference of the Books, "I pray that this is a passing phase in the history of Islam and that Muslims will regain their intellectual vigour and enlightened spark." Abou El Fadl is part of an international movement of Muslim intellectuals who oppose the extremism of the Wahhabis. It includes the Syrian theorist Mohammad Shahrour, the Italian imam Abdul Hadi Palazzi, and the Egyptian jurist Muhammad Imara. Abou El Fadl has his own informal cluster of American dissident scholars, which self-deprecatingly calls itself the "consolation club"--in e- mail and phone calls, they console each other. They trade stories of receiving death threats, being protested by their own radical students, and being constantly tempted by the enticements of Saudi emissaries who offer grants and endowed chairs in exchange for their theological conformity. Even in the West, dissident thinkers like Abou El Fadl have been shut out of mainstream Islamic institutions. To find an intellectual home, they reside in secular academia, where they grow even further removed from potential constituents. It's a condition that breeds depression and deep cynicism. When I ask Abou El Fadl about his hope for the future of Islam, he pulls a Diet Coke from the mini- refrigerator next to his desk before lighting a cigarette and smoking it out his window. "The chances are that I would be appreciated by a rabbi interested in interfaith discussions far more than I will be by a leader of a Muslim organization," he says. After a few puffs, he rubs the cigarette into the sill and throws it from the window. "It's very disheartening and discouraging. The reason I'm speaking so openly is that I'm fed up to the core." For centuries, the Abou El Fadl family included jurists who studied in the schools affiliated with Cairo's Al Azhar mosque, the venerable epicentre of Sunni Islamic thinking--Islam's Oxbridge. But for the epicentre of Sunnism, it had a strange history: The mosque had been founded by Shia from Tunisia in the tenth century. Perhaps, because of this lineage, Al Azhar tolerated dissident sects long after the Shia vacated the mosque in the twelfth century. Proponents of nearly all varieties of Islamic legal thinking--Mu’tazila, ahl-al-hadith, and usuli alike--found intellectual homes in Al Azhar. To be sure, Al Azhar shifted with the politics of the times. After Napoleon conquered Egypt in 1798, the mosque's leaders made slandering the French occupiers a religious crime; during the Ottoman era, the school excelled at producing pliant scholars versed in the empire's favored hanafi legal school. But, for the most part, Al Azhar's acceptance of intellectual diversity continued regardless of fluctuations in Egypt's political leadership. At least up until the post-colonial era, that is. In 1961, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the school. Sheiks at Al Azhar became government-paid functionaries--and were expected to conduct themselves as such, promoting Nasser's vision of a secular pan-Arab socialism. As Gilles Kepel, the French historian of political Islam, writes in his book Jihad, "By linking the reformed Azhar institution too directly to the state, Nasser's regime deprived it of credibility. ... A vacuum had been created, to be filled by anyone ready to question the state and criticize governments in the name of Islam." The vacuum was filled by proponents of radical Islamism--first by theorist Sayyid Qutb (who was hung by Nasser in 1966) and his comrades in the Muslim Brotherhood and then, more gradually, by Wahhabi clerics supported by Saudi Arabia. In 1962, Saudi Arabia founded the Muslim World League to fund the distribution of Qurans, the production of Wahhabi scholarship, and the building of mosques throughout the globe. And, over the course of the next four decades, the Saudis steadily purchased the ideological direction of Al Azhar. It started subtly, with cushy Gulf sabbaticals for scholars. "In six months on sabbatical, they would earn twenty years' salary," says Abou El Fadl. As these contributions became more customary--and scholars became increasingly eager to supplement their $40-a-month salaries--the Saudis expanded their influence. Through the Muslim World League, they began endowing chairs for scholars and funding departments. By the late '90s, it was growing difficult to find an Azhari who hadn't benefited from Saudi largesse--and who hadn't returned the favor with pro-Wahhabi scholarship. When Abou El Fadl began studying with the Azhari sheiks, in 1969 at the age of 6, the mosque was in the midst of this transition from religious diversity to Wahhabi predominance. Signs of moderation still existed: Following Abou El Fadl's adolescent flirtation with Islamism--during which he destroyed his sister's Rod Stewart tapes and fulminated against mixed gatherings--the sheiks persuaded him to adopt a more moderate path. But, over the years, Abou El Fadl noticed the increasing presence of Saudi money and of Wahhabism. For years, one of his most beloved teachers, Muhammad Jalal Kishk, had mocked the ignorance of Wahhabi Islam. But, in 1981, after Kishk received the $200,000 King Faisal Award and the $850,000 King Fahd Award from the Saudi government, he published a pro-Wahhabi tome called The Saudis and the Islamic Solution. Today, the takeover of Al Azhar is largely complete. The highest-ranking sheik in the once-moderate institution, Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, endorses suicide bombings. And Al Azhar has bullied the Egyptian government into granting it power to censor all books on Islam. As the university's president told Al-Ahram Weekly last year, "Freedom is restricted by respect for God, his prophet and all religious values." Many Azharis who refused to toe the Wahhabi line have been purged from the institution. Abou El Fadl tells the story of another of his teachers, Muhammad al-Ghazali. Even though al-Ghazali was among the more conservative Azharis, he grew impatient with the rising anti- intellectualism at the school. In 1989, he published a book called The Sunna of the Prophet: Between the Legists and Traditionalists, accusing the Wahhabi of justifying fanaticism and defiling Islam's reputation. Within two years, the Saudis subsidized the publication of seven books trashing al-Ghazali. At three Muslim World League-sponsored conferences in Saudi Arabia, scholars lined up to dismiss his arguments. Even the Saudi newspaper, Al-Sharq al-Awsat, issued its own lengthy rebuttals. But, what most pained al-Ghazali, according to Abou El Fadl, was not the Saudi smear campaign but watching his old students--many of whom had received Saudi fellowships and book advances--remain silent amid the uproar. At the time, al-Ghazali told Abou El Fadl, "I never realized how bad it has become until this instance. I realize that the foreseeable future is lost." After years of suffering polemics, Abou El Fadl told me, "al-Ghazali died of a broken heart." In May 1985, after Abou El Fadl completed his junior year at Yale, he returned home to Cairo for the summer. A few weeks earlier, Yale had named him "Scholar of the House," an award that Al-Ahram celebrated in its pages. In addition to his academic work, Abou El Fadl had spent the year studying for certification in a top-level field of Islamic jurisprudence called hadith authentication. Now, at home with his Azhari teachers, he put the final touches on his preparation. One evening, as he left his study circle, however, two plainclothes Egyptian policemen approached him. Without explanation, they shoved him in a truck and blindfolded him. Abou El Fadl later discovered that they had taken him to the basement of a detention center called Lazoughli. "You think that you're scholar of the house," his interrogators declared sarcastically as they beat him. Next, the police transferred him to a notorious desert prison called Tora, rumored to be surrounded by the makeshift graves of torture victims. Abou El Fadl was suspended from the ceiling by his left arm for six-hour intervals; guards shocked him with electricity and pulled out his fingernails. After three weeks, and without a conviction, they released him.; "Naively, I had assumed that the freedoms afforded in the United States, and the relative absence of political persecution, would allow for a Muslim intellectual rebirth." This was not the first time Abou El Fadl had been targeted by police. As a teenager, he had published ant regime poetry and stories in the opposition dailies and had twice been taken in for beatings. But, whereas many of Abou El Fadl's contemporaries responded to such police-state tactics by embracing militant Islamism, the abuse only magnified his desire to find a community where he could speak his mind without fear of retribution from either secular or religious authorities. And so, after his 1985 visit, Abou El Fadl returned to the United States in self-imposed exile. He had high hopes for the Muslim community in the United States. Unlike the scholars at Al Azhar, they didn't have to contend with government censorship and Wahhabi oppressiveness, he imagined. "Naively, I had assumed that the freedoms afforded in the United States, and the relative absence of political persecution, would allow for a Muslim intellectual rebirth," he writes in the introduction to And God Knows the Soldiers. He even daydreamed that American Muslims might form a diaspora movement that would return to remake the Middle East. But, instead of tolerance, Abou El Fadl found a community that wasn't significantly more open than the one he'd left behind. Where he expected vibrant intellectual debate, he found rigid conformity to Wahhabi-like practices. "As I move from mosque to mosque, I encounter Muslims who seem to think that the harsher and the more perverse the law, the more it's Islamic," he says. He noticed that American imams often lacked even the rudiments of Islamic education. And he noticed that community leaders worried more about combating criticism of their organizations than about building educational institutions. "Despots," he calls them. After finishing graduate school at Princeton in 1995, Abou El Fadl began publicly criticizing mainstream Islam, and it was not long before it got him in trouble. In 1997, while teaching at the University of Texas, he was driven from his mosque, the Islamic Center of Greater Austin. Finishing Friday supplications, he was interrupted by a man who "kindly invited" him into the building's boardroom. Entering the room, he found 15 men sitting around a long table. They took turns condemning his scholarship as heretical. A board member stood up and pronounced him "the great Satan." Abou El Fadl left the room. But congregants began to trail him on the street. One took off his shoe and began swinging it at him. The attack only stopped after the intervention of a passing graduate student. But the post-September 11 backlash was much greater. The criticism that followed his Los Angeles Times op-ed was not limited to anonymous threats; it came from good friends, too. This past summer, he was banned from The Minaret magazine, a publication to which he had contributed a monthly column for nearly 20 years. "Good luck with your career that is based on self-promotion and self- aggrandizement," the magazine's editor wrote in an e-mail. The Los Angeles- based Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) posted condemnations of Abou El Fadl on the American Muslims Intent on Learning and Activism (AMILA) Internet site. And, several days after he published another contentious op-ed this summer, a lawyer with ties to MPAC began representing Abou El Fadl's ex-wife of ten years in a custody battle. "My son has been living with me for the past ten years. Suddenly, their lawyer is representing her in her lawsuit filed against me," he says. "They've made it personal." In an e-mail to Abou El Fadl, MPAC denied all involvement in the custody suit. Last month, Abou El Fadl had been scheduled to lecture at the University of Kuwait on the subject of Islam and democracy. He'd been looking forward to the talk, a rare opportunity to address Islamic intellectuals in the Middle East. But, a week before the lecture, he caught wind of a disturbing rumour. A dissident within the Saudi government told a friend of his that the Saudis planned to pick him up and make him disappear. "The Kuwaitis would say, `We don't know what happened,'" he explains. "Everyone would be interested for a while; then, it would be forgotten like everyone else." Abou El Fadl cancelled the trip. Even within the confines of Western academia, the Saudis have attempted to impose their Wahhabist interpretation of Islam, to re-create their takeover of Al Azhar. And, just as with the Azharis, their primary inducement has been monetary. There's no better way to gauge the Saudi effort than by reading off the names of prominent Middle Eastern studies departments and the gifts they have received from the Saudi royal family. Five years ago, King Fahd gave Oxford University more than $30 million to its Islamic Studies Centre. In 1994, the University of Arkansas received a $20 million grant to begin the King Fahd Program for Middle East Studies. Thanks to a $5 million gift, U.C. Berkeley now houses the Sultan Bin Abdel Aziz Program in Arab Studies. Even Harvard has a chair, currently occupied by legal scholar Frank Vogel, called the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Adjunct Professor of Islamic Legal Studies--and subsidized by at least $5 million from the Saudis. Ever since Abou El Fadl's days as a graduate student at Princeton, the Saudis have plied him with similar offers of wealth. In 1991, before he'd finished his dissertation, the Muslim World League offered him $100,000 to write a book on Islam; in return, however, it demanded "final editorial control. " Abou El Fadl rejected the offer. Seven years later, the Saudis offered to nominate him for the $200,000 King Faisal award. After a preliminary phone call, Abou El Fadl stopped returning the Saudis' messages; they'd made him uncomfortable with too many leading questions about the "enemies of Islam." But, despite his past rejections, the Saudis have kept trying. Last year, they offered Abou El Fadl and his "guests" an all-expenses-paid "VIP" trip to Mecca for Hajj. Abou El Fadl has rejected the offers because he's seen what Saudi patronage has done to the scholarship of his colleagues. He calls Vogel's book on Saudi law, Islamic Law and Legal System: Studies of Saudi Arabia, "an embarrassment." (Vogel says he has no qualms about accepting Saudi money. "I saw it as something very much in the greater good of the Muslim world and particularly of Saudi Arabia," he told NPR in 1993.) In Abou El Fadl's view, the Saudi contributions have exacerbated the shift in Middle Eastern studies away from critical, secular analyses of modernization toward celebrations of Islamist "civil society." As the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Martin Kramer puts it, "The last places to look for anything critical are Berkeley and Harvard. There's nothing out there on opposition trends in Saudi Arabia. Because even if you aren't getting money, you're trying to get in the game." To give me a sense of the Saudi advantage on the intellectual battlefield, Abou El Fadl took me on a tour of his massive home library. First, he showed me a Saudi-published five-volume set listing Islamic texts that good Muslims should never read. According to Abou El Fadl, the Saudis have even banned some of the works of their most important ahl-al-hadith jurist, the thirteenth- century Syrian Ibn Taymiyyah. Next, he pulled several books from the shelves. One, a volume from Riyadh, is leather-bound with a gold-leaf pattern on the spine that, when lined up with other books on the shelf, makes up a lovely mosaic. Next, he showed me the work of an important moderate jurist from Cairo. The pages have a quality a bit higher than toilet paper, and the printing looks like it was run off a mimeograph machine. Only 100 copies of the book exist, and, despite its low quality, it is expensive. The Wahhabi texts, by contrast, are not only beautiful, they're cheap, thanks to heavy subsidies from the Saudis. "Islam is about the subjective engagement," Abou El Fadl told me, neatly encapsulating how his theological vision differs from the strident absolutism of Wahhabism. But, because he believes the true meaning of Islam should be continually debated, hashed out in arguments between jurists, he finds himself rhetorically disadvantaged when facing opponents who lay claim to ultimate truth. This asymmetrical warfare was on display last month, when Abou El Fadl went to Qatar to debate the morality of suicide bombings with Islamist Sheik Youssef al-Qaradawi, who preaches on the TV network Al Jazeera. (Al-Qaradawi had previously announced that those who shook hands with Shimon Peres should wash their hands "seven times, one time with dirt.") Abou El Fadl only agreed to the trip because the State Department had helped organize it and guaranteed his safety. Bodyguards maintained a constant watch over his hotel room. In a conference room at the Doha Ritz Carlton, Abou El Fadl pointed out the logical inconsistencies in al-Qaradawi's defence of suicide bombing and cited pre-modern Islamic jurists on the ethics of revenge. But such details were of no interest to al-Qaradawi. According to Abou El Fadl, al-Qaradawi told the crowd of Muslim intellectuals and foreign journalists, "I don't know why brother Abou El Fadl keeps needlessly complicating things; Islam is against such complications," before going on to cite statistics about the murders of Palestinian children. By the end of the debate, Abou El Fadl felt that he'd been mocked, ignored, and rhetorically run over. Al-Qaradawi stopped addressing him by his proper title--sheik--and, as he left the stage, refused to shake hands. "It wasn't a fair fight," one participant told me later. Two weeks after he returned from Qatar, Abou El Fadl got a visit from the FBI. The State Department, the agents told him, had asked them to set up a meeting: It wanted to ensure that his criticism of al-Qaradawi didn't result in any physical harm. Already, al-Qaradawi had mentioned their debate on his website, and it had unleashed a torrent of response. A group of social scientists in Egypt had e-mailed Abou El Fadl to tell him that they "prayed God would return him to a straight path." And he received similar messages from Jordan and elsewhere. A few days before the FBI visited, we had discussed the debate and the consequences of challenging popular imams. As he spoke, he stroked his blind terrier, Lulu. With a resigned tone, he told me, "There may need to be sacrificial lambs. I'm going to play this role and speak my conscience." ----- Franklin Foer is the former editor of The New Republic. Source: Moral Hazard 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

Tipu Sultan and the Modernisation of Kerala

By Grace Mubashir, New Age Islam 30 June 2023 Tipu Sultan was an important ruler of the Mysore Kingdom that grew in southern India in the late 1700s. It was his and his father Hyder Ali's hard work and efficiency that made Mysore an kingdom that stretched from the Krishna River in the north to Kerala in the south, although he had no claim to royal succession or a distinct family legacy. Through his reign that lasted from 1782 to 1799, he was able to not only lead southern India to progress but also mount strong challenges against European invasion. The 18th century for India was a time of disintegration of Mughal rule and clear signs of British dominance. To lead a society firmly entrenched in patriarchy and in the grip of foreign tyranny to freedom is not a heavy responsibility but one that is met with fierce resistance and counter-attacks. The Mysore invasion of 1766 caused a change in Kerala's socio-political environment. The territory of the Zamorin of Calicut and neighbouring regional kingdoms was invaded by Hider Ali Khan, the monarch of the Mysore kingdom, for the second time. Ali Raja of the Cannanoare Arakkal kingdom made the appeal to delay Hider Ali Khan's second invasion. The King of Palghat, a long-time enemy of the Zamorin troops, requested the first invasion, which took place in 1756–1757. Hyder was at that time working for the Wodeyars of Mysore as the Faujdar of Dindigul. The Kingdom of Cochin, which is located close by and to the south of Malabar, became a subordinate kingdom of Mysore after the takeover of Zamorin territory. In 1767, Hider Ali's first attempt to overthrow the British ally state of Travancore failed, and his son Tipu Sultan's second attempt, made in 1789 and 1790, fell short. However, Tipu Sultan instigated the Third Anglo-Mysore War, which led to the British invasion, by assaulting the Kingdom of Travancore. Thus, Travancore was the only region of the modern state of Kerala that was independent of Mysore rule. Kerala during the Mysore invasion In Kerala, the Mysore sultans ran into a cultural and economic environment riddled with caste hierarchies and subaltern hegemony after the arrival of the Aryans (Namboothiris). It was a society where anarchy and immorality were rampant. In Namboothiri families only the eldest son had the legal right to marry from his own caste. The stipulation was that the younger sons should have convenient relations with young women of the Nair community. For this, legal marriages in the Nair community were banned due to caste laws. "Shudra women are not to observe half-fasting and are to devote themselves to the fulfilment of the wishes of the Namboothiris; The Brahmins dealing with these suggest that they were commanded by Parasuraman, who gave the code of conduct to the Malayalees'' (C. Achyutamenon, Cochin State Manual 1910 Ernakulam, 193) This was the general attitude of the Kerala people at that time. It was also the practice of women here to take more than one husband. Therefore, the responsibility of looking after the family has become that of the uncles, as the father being unrecognizable. It became a practice that prevailed throughout Kerala under the name Marumakkathayam (Matriliny). Life has become difficult for the lower class and other people by the Namboothiri community's monopoly in agriculture, dominance in the power sector, dominance in the financial sector, leadership in the spiritual domain and material comforts. Increased use of intoxicating substances, depravity and moral decay spread among the Kerala people. While describing the situation in 1800, Dr. Buchanan says, "The renters are the dogs here." Except for the Namboothiri women, the freedom to cover was denied. For women belonging to the lower castes to cover up was considered grossly indecent and a violation of the law. Most of the countries were ruled by Hindu kings. Muslims remained second-class citizens under these local rulers. Although they emerged as economic powers because they were important links in the trade chain, they had to get special permission from the village to build a mosque. Even if a Muslim was as wealthy as he was, it was obligatory to stand up and perform the ritual at the sight of the Hindu Pramani (feudal lord). Isolated objections to this did not fail to arise in the early seventeenth century. The invasion of Malabar by Hyderali and Tipu Sultan took place at a time when the opposition of the Mappilas against Hindu supremacy was at its peak. Tipu was able to implement many progressive schemes in the country within a short period of time. Important among them are the social, cultural and economic reforms in the Malabar region. Timely, progressive and anti-foreign, his style of governance impressed even his enemies. Social Reforms Tipu mainly tried to eliminate the prevailing customs in the society. He firmly believed that women's social life has to be improved. That is why he insisted that caste culture should be abandoned. Polygamy was banned and extreme caution was exercised in radically reorganizing the Kerala social structure. In a proclamation issued from Kuttipuram in Kattanadu in 1788 advising the people of Malabar, he presented a new outline of social reform. Tipu exhorted them to stop all the previous riots and adopt the path of peace, pay taxes on time and live as good subjects. Tipu's proclamation emphasized the need to live like a civilized man, abandoning polygamy, which the Sultan described as uncivilized, immoral, and more shameful than among animals. He also warns that if they violate his orders and return to their old ways, he will take steps to bring their leaders under the government's rule. Realizing that the hill tribes in Malabar's Wayanad region and other hilly areas were living completely naked, the Sultan summoned the elders and promised to arrange the distribution of free clothes if poverty was the cause. But they ridiculed his action and begged to be relieved of this obligation. Threatened to flee into a violent storm if they were forced to dress, the Sultan let them go with a good word. Socio-cultural revival was Tipu's passion and idea. Therefore, he strictly prohibited the use of alcohol and intoxicating substances, which are the main causes of moral decay. A letter written by the Amir of Bangalore on 4th January 1787 says thus. "Besides prohibiting the manufacture and marketing of intoxicating substances, it is said to make written agreements with those who produce them not to manufacture and sell them anymore, and to get an agreement that they will engage in some other occupation. Their lives should be secured by giving them other jobs. The practice of putting young women to domestic work was discouraged. He found out that his Kozhikode Faujdar was having an affair with a Nair woman and ordered it to stop. He was also willing to provide her with new means of livelihood while enforcing prohibition laws. Trusts and institutions to help the needy and helpless were established in all the important places of the country. Professor Mohibbul Hassan Khan in his book quotes from the Mackenzie records about a trust set up to marry off the children of destitute and poor people of marriageable age. The tax system implemented in Tipu's country and the State Training Corporation were good enough to uplift the underprivileged. Mysore rule in Malabar ushered in the decline of the clan system and the introduction of innovative and progressive ideas for state administration. Along with introducing a centralized administrative system, the taxation system was modernized to benefit the commoners. The amount of land was determined according to the yield of the land. A second land survey was conducted in 1788-89, confiscation of unjustly held lands and new taxes were assessed. He issued special orders and implemented many reforms in the field of agriculture. This led to the Janmi system, the zamindari system that existed in Malabar for centuries, to decline. The revolution initiated by Tipu Sultan in the agricultural land was strongly opposed by the natives of Malabar. Some of the agrarian reforms included giving annual loans to farmers, fixing taxes on crop yields, fixing land ownership, providing tax relief in case of disaster, and allowing a small percentage of net profits to be paid as taxes. The Sultan tried to experiment with foreign farming systems. More attention was paid to wheat, barley, millets, sugarcane and fruit crops. New laws were enacted to conserve forest resources and the planting of good types of wood for shipbuilding was encouraged. Trade in pepper, cardamom and sandalwood became a government monopoly. Government godowns were opened in many parts of North Kerala to collect these. Vadakara, Koyilandi, Kozhikode and Mayyazhi were selected for this purpose. These goods were stored in these godowns and sold to foreign traders at a fixed price. This helped the farmers to get fair price for their produce. British historian Edward Moore records the economic progress in Malabar during this period. In Kochi and Malabar, EMS records in his book ‘Keralam’ that there was no land tax until recently, and Tipu Sultan was the first person to impose a tax. Trade and industry flourished in Malabar during the reign of Tipu Sultan. Tipu was the only Indian ruler who understood that industrial growth and trade development were necessary for the country to have prosperity. Muhibbul Hassan Khan narrates: ‘A keen observer of international movements, Tipu was in touch with the major European nations that were enjoying the benefits of the industrial revolution. He was able to establish a systematic and exemplary administration through the industrial policy implemented with a view to its success. Agriculture and trade flourished. Sultan was associated with foreign countries for their advancement.’ "The farmers in his country are safe. Their efforts are encouraged,” John Shore wrote. Tipu's administration was concerned with planting trees and beautifying the country by constructing irrigation schemes and dams for agriculture. Science and art literature also flourished then. Trading posts were opened in Muscat, Jeddah, Darmuz and Peru (Burma) to promote foreign trade. Sultan also set up a trading company selling shares to interested parties. A mechanism was created to ensure 50% dividend to the shareholders. An oyster hatchery was also established on the Malabar coast. Divers were also imported from Muscat for this purpose. This was the beginning of industrialisation of Kerala economy. As part of the industrial revolution, public works were carried out on a large-scale during Tipu's reign. It was his way to always be doing something new. It included new towns, new roads, new irrigation schemes, ever-changing place names, currency systems, administrative department reorganizations, provincial reorganizations, and many necessary and unnecessary reforms. History records that Tipu was the first to open navigable roads on demand in the Malabar region. Before his time wheeled carts were not seen in the district. It was only after the arrival of Tipu's big guns that the need for lines began to be seen. It was during the Sultan's time that most parts of Malabar were connected and there were many roads that made it possible to walk through the jungles of the country. Tipu's implementation of the concept of the road ushered in the education of the people, mutual cooperation, familiarity, exchange of visions and a new closeness of human relations. A separate department was working for the development of roads and canals in Malabar. All the long travellers used to travel through them. For the convenience of travellers, inns were occasionally established on the main roads. A colony was established by bringing some Hindu families from outside to provide hotel facilities for Hindu travellers from Tritala near Ponnani. Hindus were brought in from outside because the local Hindus considered it a disgrace to work in hotels. These projects were implemented with the revenue from Malabar. A military college in Mangalore was appointed to train the navy. This navy was at the fore in arresting pirates. Two large weaving mills were established at Kannur and Kasaragod to make clothes for soldiers and to solve unemployment in Malabar. English historians have also commended him for his laudable work in reviving the declining weaving industry in South India. Factories for the manufacture of daily use goods, a company for the procurement and trading of forest products, a dyeing business, and small-scale enterprises for the manufacture of hats are examples of his business interest and financial acumen. Tipu curbed the extravagance shown in spending money on celebrations. Buchanan records in his book that the custom of Malabar is to spend all that is in one's own hands and then borrow and spend as much as one can get. Tipu ordered that no village in his country should spend more than one percent of its total income on celebrations. (Mappila Community - History Culture - T Muhammad). The people were allowed to visit the Sultan at any time and express their grief. The Sultan had instructed that Hindus should live by their creed just as Muslims practice Sharia law. Expensive gifts were given to Hindu monks. The Sultan directly gave gifts to those who were interested in agricultural development and new inventions. (Kerala Muslim History. P.A. Zaid Muhammad) Tipu's conquest of Malabar led to economic and social transformations. It helped to wipe out the prevailing Namboothiri supremacy and eradicated customs and vices. Many Mappilas were appointed to important posts in the administration and the army. With the relaxation of birth right, the Mappilas became the owners of land. (Malabar Struggle M.P. Narayana Menon) The Mysore administration helped the lower castes to understand that they had the right to question the upper castes and to develop a sense of their dignity and power. With this, the Nayars had their right cut down among the lower castes. The excessive socio-political importance of the Nair community disappeared and the lower castes gained social acceptance. (Kerala Muslim Directory) Under Mysore rule, Kerala Muslims could build mosques without anyone's permission. It was also possible to rest in graves without paying taxes. Muslims gained glory. But being Muslims did not exempt them from tax liability. But they became a protected people. Social Consequences of Reforms The Malabar region were viewed with suspicion and considered an unjust encroachment on the caste system. Therefore, strong objections were raised against it. They assumed that Tipu Sultan, a Muslim, was carrying out conversion schemes. Tipu's failure was that he could not convince them for who’s good he was doing this. The Mysore army put up a strong defence against the British who encroached on the country's sovereignty. Therefore, Tipu became a bitter enemy of the British. When they got the chance, they broke all bounds of politeness and clashed with the Sultan. The British portrayed Tipu Sultan as a religious fanatic and a temple destroyer in order to overthrow Tipu who strongly resisted and to gain support for their political conquest. The heavy blow to the caste system also fuelled the protest against Tipu. So upper caste Hinduism and the British wrote Tipu Sultan in history like this. "The cruelties committed here by Hyder Khan and his son Tipu Sultan were inhumane: no complaint, no indignation. But it is useless to turn a blind eye to the fact that the fate of weapons has resulted in a crash in the customs, deeds, actions, beliefs, ideals and theories that the Malayali people have taken care of for centuries. Many were sad. It was so brutal that I couldn't even remember it except with shock. It was terrible." (Kerala in the 19th century. P. Bhaskaranunni) But if we look at the facts, we can understand that Tipu Sultan was very cautious in showing respect and dignity to the people of other religions. The temple in front of the Palakkad fort is proof of this. Many Hindus worked in his army. Tipu's army chief himself was a non-Muslim named Apparao. After Tipu, Dewan Purnaiya was the most powerful in the country. Shyama Iyer was in charge of the police department. How can a ruler who shows broad-mindedness only to produce non-religious people even in administrative matters, be a bigot and a fanatical religious thinker? Many incidents can be found in the history books which support Tipu's religious harmony stance. Some historical accounts paint Tipu as more of a religious fanatic and a poisoner of communalism. The results of Tipu's social reforms are still present in Kerala in the form of abolition of caste supremacy, roads and progress in agriculture. ----- A regular columnist for, Mubashir V.P is a PhD scholar in Islamic Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia and freelance journalist. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Qurbani Indoctrinates Sacrifice, Mercifully Of Animals, And No Longer Of Humans As In Pre-Islamic Times

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 30 June 2023 "Goats have these uncannily human eyes. This one had brown eyes and I felt a shiver of guilt down my spine as I picked up the knife. I gulped and looked at the others. Everyone was smiling, as if encouraging me towards my first act of murder. My uncle even patted me on the back and asked me to hurry. "For the last time, I looked at the goat and then turning away and ignoring its calls for help, I used the knife to slit its neck. Everyone was beaming at me and I felt as if I had finally fulfilled the requirement to be part of that group. "The butcher took over from here and finished the job. I couldn't dare to look back after that, but somehow, among the back slaps and congratulations from my cousins and relatives, I managed a glance and I saw the eyes of the animal. "I didn't eat the whole day." (Read a Muslim's heart-wrenching experience when he himself participated in this gory and disgusting ritual as a young lad.) Millions and billions of animals are being slaughtered across the Muslim world as I'm typing it out. All in the name of religion and also in the name of a "merciful" Allah who first provoked Abraham to sacrifice his son Ismail and then sent an animal (Dumba) to be sacrificed in place of the child. It was Allah's way to test the devotion of Abraham and his son! Does Allah have no other work other than to indulge in relentless self-praise and servile devotion from his followers? Mind you, these are human attributes. Why should the 'Almighty' long for constant praise and devotion when you and the followers of all bogus faiths aver that the god created all creatures? If god is so hungry for perpetual praise and obeisance, it (no he or she) would have created all humans with an innate habit of praying to it (god) 24X7. Coming back to sacrifice, anthropologists like Ray Hirst and Collin Fearnley are of the opinion that sacrifice - earlier it was human sacrifice in Hinduism and its many cults as well as in the Central American and African cults - in all religions, cults and quasi-religions symbolised blood indoctrination, an integral part of initiation into a religious cult. Blood would be used for the consecration. American historian Will Durant wrote in his book, ' The History of Religion ' that in ancient times, no religious act would be complete without the sprinkling of blood. Blood, esp. human blood was a permanent religious fixture. With the passage of time, human blood was replaced with animal blood but the blood-oriented custom continued. By the way, human sacrifice was prevalent in Hinduism till around 1780 C.E. Its Tantra (occultist) sect still indulges in sanguinary practices like using the blood of a menstruating lass. Yuck! There's one Hindu 'goddess' Kali (actually a tribal deity). To propitiate her, devotees sacrifice animals, earlier humans would be sacrificed to placate her. Blood was considered as a potent offering to the deities in all faiths. From religio-anthropological perspective, blood was used by the primitive societies for removing the fear of death. Professor Hamilton Gibb, the great Englishman who taught Arabic and Middle Eastern languages at Oxford, quoted pre-Islamic poet Baneez who described how the sight of beheading (animals as well as humans) would be used to harden people and remove the fear from their hearts and minds. That practice, with a semblance of refinement, percolated down to Islam with the added myth of Abraham and his son. In fact, it's a pre-Islamic practice of sacrificing humans when there were tribes. Islam did use this Qurbani to harden its followers and perpetuate savagery. Centuries have elapsed but we've not changed. A number of brain-dead, seemingly 'educated' Muslims still sacrifice poor animals on this day. Here in Maharashtra, I'm happy for the poor animals as many of them would get a 24-hr reprieve as Eid-al-Azha coincides with Ekadashi (one more stupidity, this time, by the Hindus). So, many Muslim organizations have decided to slaughter the animal a day after Eid-al-Azha. Thanks for the small mercies! When this bloody stupidity will end remains to be seen. Jisne Iss Daur Ke Insaan Kiye Hon Paida/ Wahi Mera Bhi Khuda Ho Mujhe Manzoor Nahin (Who created such humans should also be my god! Sorry, I cannot accept it). Seeing collective human ignorance, I often think of Abdul Hameed Adam's Urdu couplet. Anyway, Happy Eid to all with a humble request: Spare the poor animals, please. ---- 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, June 28, 2023

Syed Abid Hussain: Muslims Must Fully Align Themselves With The Importance And Power Of Public Opinion In Electoral Politics And Understand The Majority’s Sentiments; Merely Crying Out For The Constitutional Safeguards At Every Turn And Protest Politics Doesn’t Help

By Dr. Javed Akhatar, New Age Islam 28 June 2023 The Destiny of Indian Muslims By Syed Abid Husain (London, Asia Publishing House, 1966). pp. 276 ------- India is a country that is home to a diverse range of minority groups. It refers to India as a “land of minorities” because India's cultural fabric is characterized by diversity and pluralism. This means that there is a rich tapestry of traditions, languages, religions, and customs present in the country. However, today, the Muslim minority feels a sense of fear that the nation may either assimilate them completely or erase their existence altogether. On the other hand, the nation itself holds concerns that the Indian Muslims might engage in activities that undermine its stability from within, or collaborate with foreign powers, particularly those sharing religious, cultural, or sacred linguistic similarities, in plots against the nation’s interests. After India gained independence, Muslims woke up to a drastically transformed world. The surroundings were engulfed in a terrifying darkness, making it impossible for them to discern the path ahead. In this obscurity, distinguishing friends from foes became impossible. Former friends seemed like strangers, while previously unknown individuals openly displayed their unfamiliarity. Muslims were marginalized and perceived as a disabled limb of the Indian nation, neither easily cast aside nor offering any apparent advantages when retained. Indian Muslims were neglected, overlooked, and treated as an unproductive part of the nation. But, the past cannot be altered or amended, but it can serve as a valuable source of lessons for improving the present and guiding the future. Following the partition of India, some Muslim intellectuals recognized the significance of critically examining the history of the Indian Muslim community. These individuals, including Dr. Syed Abid Husain, had personally experienced both pre- and post-partition India and acknowledged the power of the written word in rectifying the present and illuminating the path forward. Dr. Husain educated at Allahabad, Oxford, and Berlin. Deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, he decided to forego a profitable career in favour of serving his country. His wide scholarship, combined with the training ground of German academic discipline was responsible for some of the most objective and rational work on Indian Muslims. The study of Indian Muslims which he began in 1926 when Abid Husain became editor of the monthly journal Jamia, published from Jamia Millia Islamia, was to become a lifelong interest and subject of research. Dr. Husain had dedicated his pen in independent India for the purpose of uplifting the spirits of his disappointed brethren, not through empty emotional speeches and hollow slogans, but in the manner of a compassionate friend. He began writing editorials for the journal Jamia, on Islam and the contemporary problems of Muslims. Immediately after the Partition, he started publishing the weekly “Nayi Roshni” (New Light). With the sole intention of pulling the despondent hearts and shattered minds of Muslims out of the darkness of despair and igniting the courage to move forward in the light of hope. He made continuous efforts to remind Muslims of their forgotten lesson, to consider their heritage dearer and keep it close to their hearts. Alongside this, they should also compassionately study the perspectives of those people who have become “strangers” due to circumstances. They should strive to view and understand their thoughts, beliefs, and customs with an open mind. Therefore, we should not sit idly by assuming that if others do not try to understand us, then why we should understand them. If others don’t make an effort to understand us, but instead, we should be the first to take the initiative to break this cycle of indifference. In fact, the true significance lies not in the mighty torrential rain but in the first drop of rain that, at the risk of its own life, drips on the dry barren land. His interest in this subject continued to grow, even after the journal (Nai Roshni) was shut down in 1950. Fifteen years after its closure, he produced the most useful treatise on the subject, called The Destiny of Indian Muslims. This book first appeared in 1965. Its original Urdu version, Hindustani Musalman Aina-e Ayyam Mein had been published in the previous year. The book was the compendium of a lifetime’s work on Islam, undertaken with the objective of integrating Muslims into the Indian national scene. The title of the book contains the epithet which is regarded today as the most compelling issue in Indian polity. The importance of this book lies in the fact that Abid Husain’s analysis of what ails the Indian Muslims is as relevant today as it was on the day he wrote it. It does not stop at analysis, although the discussion of the political and intellectual movements of the immediate past, which are reflected in the various trends of thought among Muslims today, is some of the most succinct and unbiased literature on the subject. The book moves purposively towards future courses, directions and goals. For Muslims, there are many difficulties that they have had to face after independence. So long as these remain unsolved, they cannot have the peace of mind and the intellectual poise necessary for grappling with the ultimate problem. This book thoroughly examines the recent history of Indian Muslims and then through this assessment it attempts to see and showcase how Muslims in present-day India can justify their existence as an useful and necessary part of Indian society, while maintain their religious and cultural identity. Apparently this study deals with the following two issues: 1. How far and in what ways has the condition of Indian Muslims changed after independence? What are the difficulties that are disturbing their mind and making them apprehensive of the future? What are the different trends of thought found among them about shaping their future? 2. What is the best and most practical way to improve their present condition and to resolve the difficulties that they are facing? What line of thought and action should they adopt which could help them in their spiritual and material progress and enable them to become a healthy and integral part of the Indian nation and useful members of the human community? The author says that it is not possible, however, to achieve a thorough understanding of the present ideas and trends of thought among Indian Muslims without looking into those movements of thought and action in the immediate past that have deeply influenced them and left a lasting impress on their minds. Accordingly it is also advisable to discuss, by way of preamble, a third issue: What were the various political and intellectual movements in the last hundred years that are reflected in the various trends of thought among the Muslims today? So he divides this book into three parts, under the following headings: “The Shadows of Yesterday” (Part I); “The Twilight Today” (Part II); and “Tomorrow: Dark or Bright?” (Part III). In the first part the author deals with the historical background of our problem, in the second poses the problem itself, and in the third makes an attempt to find a solution. In the past years, many of our leaders have constantly engaged in negotiations with the backward caste Hindus on election occasions and thus bringing about a political revolution. Dr. Husain describes such alliances as a palace built on a weak foundation. In his opinion, this effort is futile because: “The sectarian Muslims and the backward castes of the Hindus have nothing in common except the rigid narrow-minded selfishness. They cannot agree on any common minimum agenda or collaborative political programme. Therefore, even if they hypothetically attempt to make an electoral compromise out of necessity, it would be nothing more than mere opportunism which can never be the basis of lasting friendship or cooperation.” Remedy for the petty: Muslims have not yet been able to fully align themselves with the importance and power of public opinion in electoral politics. Instead of understanding the majority’s sentiments, they often cry out for the constitutional safeguards at every turn and still prefer to use protest politics, despite being fully aware of the fact that in the battle between a knife and a melon, it is always the melon that suffers, whether the knife falls upon the melon or the melon falls upon the knife. Similarly, in the conflict between Hindus and Muslims, instigated by whichever side, the loss is always incurred by the Muslims. Therefore, Muslims can achieve their rightful place not by exerting pressure on the government, but by changing the minds of the fellow countrymen belonging to the majority. We can come across individuals in both the communities who not only become friends but also respect each other’s thoughts, beliefs, faiths, and emotions. Even after the passage of many decades, Muslims and Hindus are still breathing in an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion towards each other. This is the result of what Dr. Husain calls “historical animosity.” While individual grudges may end with the life of a person, the effects of historical grudges continue from one generation to another. Therefore, in order to eliminate them, the very action must be taken by those who have its effects felt day and night in their lives. Dr. Husain urges an appeal to the Indian Muslims to first win the larger community to their side. He writes in his insightful book: “If they want a permanent solution to their problems (Indian Muslims) have to deal not with the government but with the people and especially with the Hindu majority which can exert the greatest influence on the policy of the government. But Muslims still labour under the impression that not only a temporary but a permanent solution of their problems is in the hands of the government. To the government alone they take their problems and from it alone they expect a remedy, with the result that the central or state governments either confine themselves to an expression of sympathy, or sometimes remedy some of their minor grievances. But so far as major complaints are concerned, the government is unable to do anything until the Muslims have won popular support for their cause. The Muslims themselves do not realize it and governments do not like to recognize their inability lest it should lessen their prestige.” The application of Quranic principal as a remedy: Regardless of which class a person belongs to, goodness is inherent in their nature. However, along with this decency, he also has a weakness in that he cannot tolerate criticism from others, nor is he willing to accept his own vices and flaws that others may point out. This is precisely the place where the importance of the Qur’anic method of preaching is realized. The Quran invites individuals to be righteous, stating that if individuals become good, the correct and virtuous community will automatically come into existence. However, the general trend is that people tend to seek the correction of others without reforming themselves. لَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَىٰ And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. In his Preface to the 1991 edition of the Urdu version of the book Prof. Mushirul Haq writes that there are two ways of preaching. One way of preaching is to constantly tell others that their glass is dirty while mine is clean and transparent, so instead of using your dirty glass, use my clean glass. And another way is to silently keep your clean glass next to others’ dirty and stained glasses without saying anything. In the first method, the possibilities of success are negated because as long as there is no comparison present to compete against, everyone will continue to consider their own thing better. However, the second method has every chances of success because there may be someone who will not see the dirtiness of his glass compared to the clean and transparent one. Today, the Muslims of India as a whole has adopted the first method. If he does so, then rest assured that the prediction of Dr. Husain will prove to be correct: “Indian Muslims should have full confidence that when they present Islamic values without resorting to religious terminology, and instead emphasize ethical values, secular society will thoroughly examine them based on rationality and experience and accept them with joy.” In summary, the following two points can encapsulate the essence of the book: 1) To summarize, the author stands out because he has consciously avoided embracing the mindset of “Pidaram Sultan Bood” (my father was a sultan), and he has also refrained from excessively criticizing their own people just to gain approval and praise from the wider society. In doing so, he has displayed a commendable sense of emotional restraint and loyalty towards his own community. 2) 2) Indeed, it analyses the immediate past and moves purposefully towards future courses, directions, and goals. While doing so, this book is an attempt to explain the immediate and ultimate problems of Indian Muslims. It has been written in the hope that once these problems are rightly understood and their true significance is realized, all healthy forces in the country will combine efforts to solve them. ------- For more see Javed Akhatar, Jamia Millia Islamia and its Contribution to Islamic Studies (A Chronological Study from 1920 to 2011, Writers Choice, New Delhi, 2020. Ibid.; see also: S. A. Husain, The Destiny of Indian Muslims, Asia Publishing House, London, 1966. S. A. Husain, The Destiny of Indian Muslims, Asia Publishing House, London, 1966; see also: S. A. Husain, Hindustani Musalman Aina-e Ayyam Mein, Maktaba Jamia, New Delhi, 1965. S. A. Husain, The Destiny of Indian Muslims, Asia Publishing House, London, 1966. Ibid. Ibid. See the Preface to the 1991 edition of the Urdu version of The Destiny of Indian Muslims written by Prof. Mushirul Haq. S. A. Husain, The Destiny of Indian Muslims, Asia Publishing House, London, 1966. See the Preface to the 1991 edition of the Urdu version of The Destiny of Indian Muslims written by Prof. Mushirul Haq. Surah Fatir: 18. See the Preface, S. A. Husain, Hindustani Musalman Aina-e Ayyam Mein, Maktaba Jamia, New Delhi, 1991. S. A. Husain, The Destiny of Indian Muslims, Asia Publishing House, London, 1966. ------ Javed Akhatar, Assistant Professor (Contractual), Department of Islamic Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi-25; 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

Message Of Hajj: Never Lose Faith In Lord And Fight Against Devil

By Grace Mubashir, New Age Islam 28 June 2023 The Holy Qur'an described Mecca as the 'Mother of Villages' (Umm al-Qura), where the Ka’ba, the centre of Islamic civilization, is located. It is also a model city that presents Islam to the world. A centre full of peace and tranquillity in every sense of the word 'Islam'. Peace has been there since ancient times. A safe haven where one would not seek revenge even if he met his own father's killer. There is no violence or destruction here. It exudes indescribable purity and peace. The Qur'an described the Meccan Ka’ba as the 'Eternal Heaven' (Albait al-Ateeq). The Qur'an also describes it as 'the first temple on the face of the earth, built for all mankind to worship God' (3:96). In introducing the Ka’ba to entire humanity, the broad humanistic conception (Linnas) initiated by the Qur'an is conceivable. Allah is the Lord of the people (Rabbinas); Prophet Muhammad is a blessing to the world (21:107) and a warner to all nations; The Qur'an is 'a guidance for all mankind' (Hudal Linnas); Muslims are the best community raised for the people. Allah has given Ka’ba an epithet that is closely related to this. Ka’ba occupies the central place like that of the heart in the human body. The heart is the venous centre of the circulatory system. In human society, Ka’ba plays the role of the heart in maintaining the pulse of life by repeatedly purifying the blood that has been corrupted by use. In the words of Allama Iqbal, “Our first direction is our Qibla (Ka’ba). We constantly maintain our relationship with it: it also protects us (our unity).''The Ka’ba is the centre that enables the unity of the community of believers on a global basis. That is possible and should be possible through the deeds of Hajj and Umrah. The acts of Hajj have soul. If one do it without invoking it, s/he will not get the multifaceted benefits that should be achieved through Hajj. The Holy Qur'an does not specify the benefits of Hajj but says that 'they should experience the multifaceted benefits of Hajj' (22:28). Not everyone has the same experience in Hajj. According to each person's spiritual - inner - depth, the feelings that can be gained through Hajj. That is why the Qur'an said that one should prepare well for Hajj and ready for the path. Prepare properly for Hajj both spiritually and physically. The greatest preparation is piety. Taqwa (piety) is repeatedly emphasized when teaching the rules of hajj (2:196,197,203). The `Ihram'' and Niyyat, which marks the beginning of Hajj and Umrah, have many layers of meaning. Niyyat (intention) is to ensure purity of intention. It inculcates in Hajj a precise sense of what is to be attained through Hajj. The secret of Ihram (ritual beginning for Hajj) is that many things that are permissible, desirable and even sacred become completely forbidden until entering into Ihram. An inquisitor who does not know the details of this may sometimes ask: "Are things that were allowed and desired for so long suddenly become completely forbidden?" What is this? .....'' The answer to this is the secret of Ihram. What can happen in our life, what can't happen, when it can happen, when it can't happen is not for us or creatures like us to decide? Rather, it is the Creator, Creator, and Ruler who has absolute power to determine it all. If he allows it. If not, you can't. This should be the position of a believer. Yes, Ihram should be with complete submission to Allah's Ownership, Sovereignty and Discipline and taking it into the heart. Ihram should also be a pledge and a prayer to hold on to this reality that we often forget throughout our lives. We come to the Ka’ba in response to the proclamation of Allah, the King of Kings, through Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH), the Creator (2:124) and the restorer of the Ka’ba and the architect of Mecca (22:27). For the trope 'Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik...' is the battle of the servant's call to the master. It is the proclamation of the true and firm Monotheism (Tawheed) and the humble submission to the Lord. Our journey is to Allah; to his royal court. Come to the presence of the Almighty and Omniscient Master with utmost humility and extreme simplicity. This simple garment of the servant truly recognizing his master's servitude is equivalent to the shroud we wear on our final journey. Many people have fallen in love with this issue when entering Ihram and donning this garb. It is very important to be careful not to embrace the struggle of Ihram and become like a play. There should be no violence or destruction in Ihram; must be perfectly peaceful and humble. Haji must have had many aliases earlier. Now there is only one address. It means 'Abdullah' (Servant of God). That is the real title and the best title - Allah lovingly called the great prophets as 'Abd' (slave). Allah called His beloved servants 'Ibadur Rahman'. Tawaf is the first act of the pilgrim who reaches the Ka’ba. Walking around the Ka’ba on the left side is not circumambulation or circumambulation. It is a prayerful expression of submission and disciplined obedience to the Lord. A great act of unity of believers over all differences. It starts in front of Hajarul Aswad. By chanting the holy name of Allah. This black marker stone, which does neither good nor harm, has a lot of antiquity and history. Kissed and touched by many generations, this landmark is the oldest witness of history there. No matter who, when or where he comes from, Tawaf should start from that point. All, whether king or subject, black or white, Arab or non-Arab, start from this point. On this point, as in Ka’ba, the Muslims of the world are united. "Surely this community of yours is one community (Ummat); I am your Lord. Here we see the beautiful form of the Qur'anic statement, "Submit yourself to me (21:92). Tawaf is a prayer of mind, word and action, realizing that Tawheed is also integration and unification. Prayer to be performed with physical and mental purity. A Tawaf is seven times. This number (seven) is also thought provoking. Not only the Tawaf but the Sa'i and then the stone thrown at the Jamrahs are seven. The sky is also seven. The human race is of the same opinion that a week is seven days. Thus many things are seven. The pattern of rotation to the left is similar to the rotations in the universe. In solar systems and galaxies, down to the very core, motion—rotation—is of the same order. The Tawaf, which the angels constantly perform around the throne of Allah in the upper world, is in the same order. And so the strict system of the creator is dawning. The believer surrenders the little freedom available to him before the match of the lord and says, "Rab, I am satisfied with your provision." Tawaf is a vow and a prayer to confess that I am always ready to stick to your condition. Tawaf gives us the knowledge that those who move in disharmony with Allah's system will degenerate into anarchy that does not match the rhythm of the universe. Safa and Marwa are the two hills described by the Qur'an as the signs of Allah (2:158). Sai’ is the walk in between. Sai means effort. The message is that prayer should be accompanied by efforts to fulfil it. The walk is reminiscent of Bibi Hajra, the mother, who ran after her young son in search of water. Don't get hopeless and do nothing and adopt a suicidal inaction. In any environment we should do our best with prayer. All such efforts are part of God's worship. (Representational Photo) Dhul Hajj is held for six days from 8th to 13th in Mina-Arafah-Muzdalifa-Mina, and is being rolled and laid down in three fields, and we are being raised from the absolute state of average sympathy to the great state of empathy. Here you can experience the suffering of the street child, the homeless, and the refugee. The day of Arafah is the best of days. There the prayer is Jam and Qasr. There the activity of the day is self-examination and repentance. Be willing and committed to correction and remedial action based on self-inquiry. Then, repent and seek forgiveness. The Prophet (PBUH) has informed that the devil will tremble on the day of Arafah. The day of Arafah is a reminder of the Day of Judgment in the Hereafter. At Arafah, millions of people stand in the scorching sun for only a few hours. In the Hereafter, all men from the beginning to the end of the human race must stand for eons in a fiery atmosphere. If you are being judged here, you will be judged fiercely tomorrow in the Hereafter. The more fruitful the present self-examination, the more comfort will be found in the hereafter. The essence of 'Arafah' is recognition. We can get some insights from Arafah. Realization is all it takes to correct and be better. But there is a sad truth, not all those who are aware become better. Realizations are often lost. That is where Muzdalifah is relevant. The term used by the Qur'an for Muzdalifa is 'Mashar al-Haram'. It means the place where sacred consciousness germinates. The precious realizations of the day of the ninth of Dhul Hajj (Arafah) become intense awareness that riots within us. This awareness is the mood of Hajj. "The evil power that deceived me should no longer lead anyone astray. I will continue to fight against all the evil forces that have misled me and many others. Because I have wronged myself and wronged others, but the only atonement is the constant struggle against evil forces...'' As the beginning of the swift implementation of this firm decision, he gathers seven small stones as a symbolic weapon and marches towards the Jamrah of Mina on the morning of Dhul-Hajj 10, reciting the Talbiyath with fervour. There he begins and ends the battle against all demonic forces. The Hajis, who had recited the Talbayat, returned triumphantly reciting the Takbeer. There he begins and ends the battle against all demonic forces. The pilgrims who had recited the Talbayat returned victoriously reciting the Takbeer. There he begins and ends the battle against all demonic forces. The pilgrims who had recited the Talbayat returned victoriously reciting the Sahlad Takbeer. Sacrifice is not just sacrifice. It is a solemn act of self-sacrifice following the illustrious example of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his beloved son Ishmael (as) as commanded by God. Ibrahim (AS) prepared to sacrifice his dearest - the golden son whom he had looked after in his old age - as per the command of the Lord. We also need to be ready to sacrifice our precious and beloved (yes, our Ishmael) if need be. Then our sacrifice has meaning. "Neither the flesh nor the blood of the sacrificial animal reaches Allah; rather, let your piety be towards Allah” (22:37). "You will not attain virtue unless you spend (sacrifice) what is most dear to you" (3:92). After fighting and winning against the devil, he shaves his head to reaffirm his dedication to the fighting path; Is the devil lost forever? No; it is history that those who fled Badr came back to Uhd with new weapons and strategies. So don't stop fighting. So Dhul Hajj continues on 11th, 12th and 13th. Finally we can think of the merciful Rabb as saying to us: ''Poor Haji, thou hast come from far away, and hast been busy for some days; is tested; let’s stop for now. But there is one thing, if you come back to your country, you have to continue the fight that you stopped here for the time being till the end of your life, tirelessly and unceasingly..." Thus, Haji becomes an active fighter and returns to the country as a new man with the innocence of a new-born child. The return comes with realization and heightened awareness, and a fighting spirit against evil. When millions of holy warriors come to every nook and cranny of the world like this every year, the change is indescribable. ----- A regular columnist for, Mubashir V.P is a PhD scholar in Islamic Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia and freelance journalist. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

No Religion, Not Even Islam, Supports Terrorism, Then Why Blame Islam?

By Kaniz Fatma, New Age Islam 28 June 2023 Terrorism Stems From Corrupt Minds and Behaviours, Not Religion Main Points: 1. Islamophobic movies and dramas attempt to portray Islam as supporting terrorism. 2. Intelligence professionals recognize religion doesn't fuel terrorism; it's caused by depraved minds, corruption, and haughtiness. 3. The Quran and Hadiths condemn oppression, stating it is destructive, offensive, and prohibited, prohibiting persecution of non-Muslims under Muslim protection. 4. Islam forbids discrimination against non-Muslim minorities, but political officials frequently ignore Muslim persecution. 5. False accusations can brainwash communities, lead to wars, and create tension and hatred, which are detrimental to the nation. ------ No religion, not even Islam, supports the practice of terrorism. Every religion has historically had its share of followers who have used their beliefs to support extremism and bloodshed, but no religion has ever been held accountable for that. But why is Islam held accountable for the actions of a select few? Today, there are deliberate attempts to portray Islam as supporting terrorism through dramas and films. As a result, the Islamophobic agenda is supported; non-Muslims develop a negative opinion of Muslims, which inflames tensions between the two groups. While chanting ‘Jihadis’, some of them frequently target ordinary Muslims, many of whom do not even understand what jihad is. This situation is true despite the fact that intelligence professionals are well aware that religion does not fuel terrorism. Terrorism is a result of depraved minds, hardened hearts, and inflated egos as well as corruption, destruction, and haughtiness. However, this can only be understood by individuals whose hearts are in tune with the right humane thinking free from the clutches of prejudice and hatred. Islam promotes tolerance and harmonious coexistence with all people, both as individuals and as groups. Islam treats all people equally, regardless of their faith, race, or skin tone. Allah Most High says, “Indeed, We honoured the progeny of Adam, and bore them across land and sea and provided them with good things for their sustenance, and exalted them above many of Our creatures.” [17:70]. For interactions between Muslims and non-Muslims who coexist in the same community, Islam has established the following rules: Allah does not forbid you from dealing kindly and fairly with those who have neither fought nor driven you out of your homes. Surely Allah loves those who are fair. [60:8] In this verse, God instructs us to treat non-Muslims kindly and not to hurt them. It's as if God is ordering us to work with non-Muslims on all fronts for good and stating that this is better. Islamic desire for world peace is known to everyone who fully understands Islam because it makes peace one of its guiding principles. Al-Salam, the Arabic word for "peace," is one of the names of God Most High and one of His qualities. [59:23] Allah greeted His servants with the word "Salaam" (peace) and commanded them to do likewise. Muslims greet each other by saying "Assalam Alaikum" (peace be upon you). They can be recognised in the mosque, school, factory, and market thanks to the words of peace. The Quran contains several verses that speak about peace, one of which refers to Paradise as the Abode of Peace (6:127). Since the beginning of Islam to the present, peace has been the defining characteristic of Muslims in both the East and the West. The phrase "Peace be upon you" is used as a greeting between Muslims when they first meet and when they separate ways. This tranquilly and safety is not simply available to Muslims. Muslims hold that everyone has the right to live in peace and security in Muslim-majority countries, regardless of their religious beliefs. Islam prevents Muslims from injuring or harbouring enmity towards those who are in their care, either in words or deeds. Islam deems it crucial to protect citizens against injustice within one's borders. Allah Almighty neither loves nor gives guidance to oppressors; rather, He either exacts vengeance upon them in this life or enables them to suffer double punishment in the Hereafter. Numerous verses of the Quran and Hadiths emphasise that oppression is destructive, offensive, and prohibited in all forms. Several Ahadith expressly forbid oppression or persecution of any non-Muslim who lives under Muslim protection or with whom a peace pact has been signed. The Prophet said, "On the Day of Judgement, I am that person's enemy, who wrongs someone with whom the Muslims have a treaty, denies them their rights, and burdens them beyond what they can bear, or takes something from them against their will." Islam does not remain mute when it comes to concerns of non-Muslim minority discrimination, yet there are political leaders who do so even if they are aware that Muslim minorities are subject to religious persecution. The current state of affairs is so dire that anyone speaking out in defending rights of minorities runs the possibility of being detained or having their voices stifled. But Islam's lessons on patience and tolerance are what make it so beautiful. Islam teaches us to be tolerant clearly. Islam has built a number of arguments for the growth of tolerance and humanity that strive to instil in people a sense of treating others with honesty and working for their benefit, as is seen from a study of the Holy Qur'an and the Prophet's hadiths. The concept of tolerance in Islam is that people with different views have equal rights. Tolerance requires respecting others' feelings and abstaining from critiquing them in a way that would offend those who hold divergent opinions. Never use coercion to convince someone to give up their religious beliefs and practises or to prevent them from doing so. Tolerance is a virtue with global implications that transcends national boundaries. If a country promotes tolerance on a national level, it is simple to promote healthy international and interreligious relations. This process not only improves moral and human values but also rebuilds international trust and strengthens the economy of the country. Whether on a local, regional, or global level, social behaviour that is characterised by a spirit of tolerance does not encourage antagonism and resentment among individuals but rather opens up new possibilities for societal prosperity and a stable democratic system. Thus, from an Islamic viewpoint, tolerance is the cornerstone of society, but when it is widely practised, it encourages a culture of attachment and love among people, which is today the most urgent need and desire. Gustav Le Bon, a well-known French scholar, stated: "We have seen from the Quranic verses mentioned earlier that Muhammad's magnanimity towards Jews and Christians was most great; something that was not said by the founders of the religions that predated him like Judaism and Christianity in particular." It is incorrect and unreasonable to presume that Islam is to blame for terrorism just because it is carried out by organisations that link themselves with Islam. Let me give an example here. We all know that Christianity promotes love. But its adherents experienced oppression when they were vulnerable. Should we thus assume that the persecution and torture of Muslims and Jews in Spain carried out by the Church was a direct outcome of the teachings of Christianity? When Ibn Rushd's thinking and philosophy gained popularity, particularly among Jews, the Church took its ire out on both Jews and Muslims. The Church ruled that any Jews who refused to submit to baptism would be banished from the nation. They could sell their property if they so desired. They were not permitted to take any gold or silver with them as they departed, though. So, individuals were forced to accept trade items in exchange for their property. Jews fled Spain, abandoning their valuables in order to escape with their lives, despite the fact that many of them were overcome by hunger and the hardships of their journey because of their poverty. In addition, the Church decreed in 1052 CE that any Muslims who refused to submit to baptism would be expelled from Spain and its neighbouring regions. When they left, they were required to not take a road going to a Muslim country; anyone who disobeyed this command was put to death. In order to avoid associating the Crusades with Christian teaching, we also attempt to make a distinction between the Christians and the behaviour of some Christian radicals and terrorists. Just as we distinguish between those who lynch someone while chanting "Jai Shri Raam" and those who actually practise Hinduism, we also need to distinguish between those who murder innocent civilians while claiming to be Muslims and those who actually practise Islam۔ We vehemently denounce the extremists and radical organisations, recognizing that their actions are inconsistent with Islam and that their crimes of terrorism are the product of warped minds, desolate hearts, and conceit. If we wish to promote tranquilly and peace on a national and international scale, we must play a constructive role and adopt reality rather than making false allegations. If one religion is falsely accused of supporting terrorists on a regular basis, other communities will be brainwashed by your words, a war between one community and another will break out, and the nation will be filled with tension and hatred, neither of which are beneficial to the nation in any way. ----- 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

Only A Blank Canvas Provides A Plethora Of Possibilities

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 28 June 2023 "Books make you a scholar. Awareness makes you an evolved individual." A Zen saying Kitabon Aur Pothiyon Se Aage Nikal Apni Hasti Ko Samajh Aur Badhta Chal Dayashankar ' Naseem ' (Go beyond books and tomes/ Realize your existence and march ahead) Every day in the corner of a library in Japan, an old monk was to be found sitting in peaceful meditation. " I never see you read the sutras, " said the librarian. " I never learnt to read," replied the monk. " That's a disgrace. A monk like you ought to be able to read. Shall I teach you? " " Yes. Tell me," said the monk pointing to himself, "what's the meaning of this character?" Why light a torch when the sun shines in the heavens? Why water the ground when the rain pours down in torrents? Socrates, Kabir, Saint Kanakadas, among others never learnt how to read and write but that didn't prove to be their Achilles' heel. Kashmir-born Indo-American poet Aga Shahid Ali succinctly described Kabir in his quatrain, "He never wielded a pen/ Because, it was a pain/ Rather, he travelled all over/ That was his gain." By the way, 'elite' Indians going ga-ga over Shashi Tharoor, Vikram Seth, A K Ramanujan and Arvind Krishna Mehrotra's English, must read Aga Shahid Ali's chiselled English poetry. Coming back to the core issue, we all have a conventional way of thinking. Our definitions and perceptions of knowledge and enlightenment are still so backward. The great polymath and modern Marco Polo, Rahul Sankrityayan (Kedarnath Pandey), was not even a matriculate. No university offered him the professorship as he didn't have enough degrees. Let alone varsities, he was not even considered for the job of a primary teacher until Jawaharlal Nehru, a visionary, intervened and appointed him as a professor of Buddhism and Eastern Religions. It was an irony that though varsities didn't care for him, all the 'learned' professors of Philosophy across the globe were studying and teaching his treatises! To be enlightened, one doesn't have to be 'educated' in a conventional sense of the word. Akbar Allahabadi wrote, "Zehan Khulta Nahin Do Kitabein Padh Lene Se/ Aati Hai Aql Aankhein Khuli Rakhne Se" (The mind doesn't open by reading a few books/ Wisdom comes when eyes are wide open; here, the phrase, 'eyes wide open' means 'to have uninterrupted awareness'). In Buddhism, it is not whether you can read or write, but how you can use your native intelligence and wisdom to transform and control your thoughts, speech, and actions and return them to their original state of pristine purity and quietude. Enlightenment means that one has attained the necessary wisdom to achieve the absence of desire and suffering and to be release from samsara or the cycle of repeated births and deaths. Enlightenment means also to understand and to be awakened. In The Walled Garden of Truth or The Hadiqat al Haqiqa (حدیقه الحقیقه و شریعه الطریقه), Persian mystic Hakim Sanai writes about one of his disciples whose name I can't recall at the moment. He was unlettered, but extremely intelligent. Sanai never tried to teach him how to read and write because he (Sanai) believed that by learning artificial means, the disciple would lose his natural intelligence and awareness. He used Muhammad as a metaphor for ramming home his point: 'Not for nothing, did Allah choose Muhammad as his medium, because Muhammad was Ummi (totally unlettered in Arabic).' Wisdom descends on those who're simple, but aware and whose consciousness is ever-evolving. Only a blank canvas provides a plethora of possibilities. ---- 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

Moral Policing Has Not Yet Stopped In Karnataka

By Syed Ali Mujtaba, New Age Islam 28 June 2023 Moral policing has not yet stopped in Karnataka. This is in spite of the fact that the government in the state has changed from the right extreme to the middle of the centre. The story goes like this…A group of youngsters comprising two Muslims and a Hindu boy along with two Hindu girls went for a sightseeing tour from Mangaluru to Madikeri in Karnataka’s Kodagu district. After visiting Abbey Falls, they parked their car in Madikeri and hired a jeep to travel to Mandalpatti Peak. When the youngsters returned to the spot where they had parked the car, they were allegedly surrounded by a group of 30 people, who questioned the inter-religious nature of the group. The three boys were allegedly beaten up and their two female friends were verbally abused by the mob that also photographed them and punctured the tires of their car. The attackers allegedly questioned the presence of two Muslims Mohammed Shamseer (24), Saman Sajeed (23) in the group. The mob allegedly beat up all three men in the group. The women were verbally abused for having bad character. The mob punctured the tires of the car in which the victims travelled from Mangaluru to Madikeri. They also took pictures of all five members of the group and circulated them on social media. Prime face this pertains to the case of moral policing involving suspected right-wing activists. This region of Karnataka is notorious for Hindu fanatics who prowl at such instances of interfaith friendship. On the basis of a complaint filed by Nanda Krishnan (26), a case has been registered at the Madikeri rural police with charges of wrongful restraint, intentional insult, unlawful assembly with arms, rioting, criminal intimidation and voluntarily causing hurt. The Madikeri rural police have yet to make any arrests in this case. The Congress government in Karnataka had hinted that it will not tolerate such kind of moral policing in the state. Congress’s Chittapur MLA, Priyank Kharge said the Congress will ban the RSS if it tries to disrupt peace in the state. In reply to this, Karnataka BJP chief Nalin Kumar Kateel warned the Congress if it tries to ban Bajrang Dal or the RSS, it will "burn the entire state into ashes." ------ Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Hindutva Conflates Its Ideas Of Religion And Culture: Revived Contestations Over History — From The Gyanvapi Mosque Case To The Renewed Demonisation Of Aurangzeb

By Shashi Tharoor June 27, 2023 The revived contestations over history — from the Gyanvapi mosque case to the renewed demonisation of Aurangzeb — confirm that Hindutva conflates its ideas of religion and culture with those of nation and state. Nationalism and statehood are by definition indivisible, whereas religion and culture take on multiple manifestations. Culture of course contributes to national identity; yet, culture alone cannot mould the nationalism of a country, leave alone that of a plural land such as India. Indeed, an India confident in its own diversity could celebrate multiple expressions of its culture. ‘In the Hindutva-centred view, history is made of religion-based binaries’ | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto ------ A ‘Ground Zero’ Hindutva sees culture differently. As the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s longest-serving chief M.S. Golwalkar wrote, culture “is but a product of our all-comprehensive religion, a part of its body and not distinguishable from it”. For the Hindutvavadis, India’s national culture is Hindu religious culture, and cultural nationalism cloaks plural India in a mantle of Hindu identity. Since Hindutva’s conception of nationalism is rooted in the primacy of culture over politics, the Hindutva effort is to create an idea of the Indian nation in which the Hindu religious identity coincides with the cultural. In this process, Indian history, following the Muslim conquests of north India, has become “ground zero” in the battle of narratives between the Hindutvavadis and the pluralists. When, with the publication of my book, An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India, I spoke critically of 200 years of foreign rule, the voices of Hindutva, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, condemned 1,200 years of foreign rule. To them, the Muslim rulers of India, whether the Delhi Sultans, the Deccani Sultans or the Mughals (or the hundreds of other Muslims who occupied thrones of greater or lesser importance for several hundred years across the country) were all foreigners. I responded that while the founder of a Muslim dynasty may well have come to India from abroad, he and his descendants stayed and assimilated in this country, married Hindu women, and immersed themselves in the fortunes of this land; each Mughal Emperor after Babar had less and less connection of blood or allegiance to a foreign country. If they looted or exploited India and Indians, they spent the proceeds of their loot in India, and did not send it off to enrich a foreign land as the British did. The Mughals received travellers from the Fergana Valley politely, enquired about the well-being of the people there and perhaps even gave some money for the upkeep of the graves of their Chingizid ancestors, but they stopped seeing their original homeland as home. By the third generation, let alone the fifth or sixth, they were as “Indian” as any Hindu. The Intellectual Terrain This challenge of authenticity, however, cuts across a wide intellectual terrain. It emerges from those Hindus who share V.S. Naipaul’s view of theirs as a “wounded civilisation”, a pristine Hindu land that was subjected to repeated defeats and conquests over the centuries at the hands of rapacious Muslim invaders and was enfeebled and subjugated in the process. To them, Independence is not merely freedom from British rule but an opportunity to restore the glory of Hindu culture and religion, wounded by Muslim conquerors. Historians such as Audrey Truschke, author of a sympathetic biography of Aurangzeb, have argued that this account of Muslims despoiling the Hindu homeland is neither a continuous historical memory nor based on accurate records of the past. But one cannot underestimate the emotional content of the Hindutva view: it is for them a matter of faith that India is a Hindu nation, which Muslim rulers attacked, looted and sought to destroy, and documented historical facts that refute this view are at best an inconvenience, at worst an irrelevance. Indeed, Professor Truschke has remarked on the widespread belief in India that Aurangzeb was a Muslim fanatic who destroyed thousands of Hindu temples, forced millions of Indians to convert to Islam, and enacted a genocide of Hindus. None of these propositions, she demonstrates in her work, was true, least of all the claim (made by many of those who fought successfully to remove his name from a prominent road in Delhi) that his ultimate aim was to eradicate Hindus and Hinduism. Historical evidence suggests that Aurangzeb did not destroy thousands of Hindu temples, as is claimed, and that the ones he did destroy were largely for political reasons; that he did little to promote conversions, as evidenced by the relatively modest number of Hindus who adopted Islam during Aurangzeb’s rule; that he gave patronage to Hindu and Jain temples and liberally donated land to Brahmins; and that millions of Hindus thrived unmolested in his empire. Like many rulers of his time, whether Muslim or Hindu, Aurangzeb attacked Hindus and Muslims alike. But such nuanced accounts of Aurangzeb enjoy little traction amongst those who prefer their history in unambiguous shades of black and white. Aurangzeb is controversial not because of what he did in the historical past but rather because he serves a useful purpose in the present as an emblem of Muslim oppression. In the Hindutva-centred view, history is made of religion-based binaries, in which all Muslim rulers are evil and all Hindus are valiant resisters, embodiments of incipient Hindu nationalism. The Hindutvavadis seem unaware of the Muslim generals who fought on the side of Hindu rajas and vice-versa. Indeed, few who extol Maharana Pratap as the “victor” in the Battle of Haldighati against Akbar’s Mughal army realise that Akbar’s forces were in fact commanded by a Hindu, Raja Man Singh of Amber, and that Rana Pratap’s resistance was led principally by a Muslim, Hakim Khan Sur. Similarly, liberal and tolerant rulers such as Ashoka, Akbar, Jai Singh and Wajid Ali Shah do not figure in Hindutva’s list of national heroes. Indeed, where many nationalist historians extolled Akbar as the liberal, tolerant counterpart to the Islamist Aurangzeb, Hindutvavadis have begun to attack him too, principally because he was Muslim, and like most medieval monarchs, killed princes who stood in his way, many of whom happened to be Hindu. The Recent Past Is Not Spared Too Communal history colours even the more recent past. Among those Indians who revolted against the British, Bahadur Shah, Zeenat Mahal, Maulavi Ahmadullah and General Bakht Khan, all Muslims, are conspicuous by their absence from Hindutva histories. And syncretic traditions such as the Bhakti movement, and universalist religious reformers such as Rammohan Roy and Keshub Chandra Sen, do not receive much attention from the Hindutva orthodoxy. What does is the uncritical veneration of “Hindu heroes” such as Maharana Pratap and of course Chhatrapati Shivaji, the intrepid Maratha warrior whose battles against the Mughals have now replaced accounts of Mughal kings in Maharashtra’s textbooks. As the recent National Council of Educational Research and Training controversy has again reminded us, the educational system is the chosen battlefield for the Hindutva warriors, and curriculum revision their preferred weapon. History has often been contested terrain in India, but its revival in the context of 21st century politics is a sobering sign that the past continues to have a hold over the Hindutva movement in the present. While the Mughals will be demonised as a way of delegitimising Indian Muslims (who are stigmatised as “Aurangzeb ke aulad”, the sons of Aurangzeb), the appropriation of Sardar Patel, Madan Mohan Malaviya and other nationalists by Hindutva confirm that the heroes of the freedom struggle will be hijacked to the ruling party’s attempts to appropriate a halo of nationalism that none of its forebears has done anything to earn. ----- Shashi Tharoor is third-term Lok Sabha Member of Parliament (Congress) from Thiruvananthapuram, is the Sahitya Akademi Award-winning author of ‘An Era of Darkness’ and of ‘The Battle of Belonging’. His most recent book is ‘Ambedkar: A Life’ Source: The Main Chapter Of How Hindutva Sees The Past ------- What’s Behind The Communal Tinge To Maharashtra Politics? Jun 27, 2023 A gutted bike in Akola ----- Mumbai The class IX student at a Kolhapur school is a huge fan of Narendra Bhagana, the subaltern Haryanavi singing sensation with testosterone-heavy lyrics: Bhai tera gunda, villain rhn de, bandook chalegi... (your brother is a thug, forget the villain, guns will go off...). You get the drift. Earlier this month, this 16-year-old, along with four other minors, was arrested for disturbing peace in the city and sent to a juvenile home for 14 days His WhatsApp display photograph showed a picture of Tipu Sultan with accompanying text that read: “The king who fought like a soldier. India never seen (a warrior) like him, his soul departed from his body but his sword remained in his hand.” Bhagana’s hit song Baap toh baap rahega played when one clicked on Tipu’s photo. Four other school boys arrested along with him had similar WhatsApp status updates-- in some cases, glorifying Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. These images so incensed members of the recently-minted Sakal Hindu Samaj (SHS) that on June 7, they gheraoed the local police station, demanding stern action against glorifiers of Tipu and Aurangzeb, and the bandh called by them escalated to stone pelting and destruction of shops. As the controversy snowballed, Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis blamed “Aurangzeb’s aulaads (offsprings)” for the rising communal temperature in the state, and on his 55th birthday on June 14, Raj Thackeray cut a cake with Aurangzeb’s photo by plunging the knife into the emperor’s mouth like a stake. Why has Maharashtra’s politics acquired such a communal colour all of a sudden? Communal eruptions across Akola, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Beed, Mumbai, Amravati and Nashik in the last eight months, and the killings of two cattle traders by alleged cow vigilantes in a the last three weeks at Nashik, have raised concern that the state may be headed for a bigger sectarian flashpoint. These instances of violence have come on the back of over 50 Jan Aakrosh (public anger) rallies that have ratchet up anti-Muslim rhetoric. Tracking Roots To RSS The Nagpur-based Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader is a tall and gnarly man in his early 70s, the national chief of one of the organisation’s key units . He speaks off the record, but with a candour that comes from certitude, as he explains the genesis of SHS. “There are many Hindus and Hindu-oriented organisations that don’t necessarily attend shakhas, but they share the same philosophy and they needed to be brought under one umbrella. That is how SHS was created.” SHS shares its credo with an old RSS campaign, ‘Ek kuan, mandir, aur shamshan, Hinduon ki yahi pehchan (Those who share one well, one temple and the crematorium are all Hindu brethren). Organisations such as the Durga Vahini, Gayatri Parivar, Sanatan Sanstha, Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali, the Sakal Jain Samaj, and even some Sikh and Buddhist organisations are all part of SHS, this leader claimed. It enjoys the intellectual support of the Sangh and the logistical heft of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he added. SHS owes its name to something Savarkar once wrote, “Tumhi amhi sakal Hindu, Bandhu bandhu (You and I are all Hindus, and brothers). However, the idea to keep the outfit overtly leaderless is borrowed from the 2015 Maratha reservation campaign. This means SHS works as an umbrella grouping of discrete outfits, with no specific leader. “We want laws at the national and state level to stop love jihad, illegal conversions and cow slaughter,” said Sunil Ghanwat, spokesperson for Hindu Janjagruti Samiti for Maharashtra, which is one of the units of SHS. ”It’s not about the BJP or Congress or any other party. We have been demanding action against love- ihad and religious conversions for many years. It’s just that these issues are more in focus today because of massive marches taken out by Hindus,” he added. “It’s a spontaneous movement in the interest of the Hindu Samaj where every Hindu organisation is a participant,” said another senior RSS leader, Atul Moghe. RSS swayamsevaks participate in SHS rallies and support its initiatives, he added. BJP Maharashtra spokesperson Shivaray Kulkarni also said that BJP workers and leaders participated in SHS rallies, including ministers and lawmakers. “However, neither rank-and-file nor the leaders initiate such rallies. These are spontaneous uprisings of the Hindu fraternity.” Spontaneous is a word that comes up again and again to stress that the Jan Aakrosh rallies are natural eruptions, rather than organised events. Yet, facts on the ground differ. Last December, after Shraddha Walkar’s murder in Delhi, SHS launched a massive campaign against so-called love jihad – a popular right-wing conspiracy theory about interfaith relationships – claiming there were 100,000 instances of it in the state. The Shinde-Fadnavis government set up a committee to look into instances of coercive inter-faith marriages, but it has yet to receive a single complaint. On June 3, while steering clear of the term love jihad, Fadnavis said, “Instances of innocent girls being lured into inter-religious marriages and (subsequent) exploitation are coming to light. We are concerned, and will crack the whip.” When HT spoke to the police stations in Pune, Kolhapur, Solapur, Akola and Nashik, officers said they had no data to support these political claims and not a single FIR of coercive Hindu-Muslim marriage was registered so far in 2023. “We do not have compilation of such data with regards to any love jihad or religious conversions,” said Pune joint commissioner of police (law and order) Sandeep Karnik. What is happening instead is that crimes of rape, molestation or sexual assault under Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act, where the accused may be a Muslim and the victim a Hindu, are being tarred with the brush of love jihad. Sample this – on May 20, BJP member of legislative council Gopichand Padalkar told a press conference that a Hindu girl from Manchar in Pune district was tortured by a Muslim young man as part of forcible conversion under love jihad. Pune Police arrested the man under various sections of the Indian Penal Code but maintained there was no overt sectarian angle. Campaign Pivots To History With love jihad conspiracy theories finding little grassroots traction in the state, the campaign to polarise pivoted to historical figures such as Aurangzeb — an easy enough enemy, given Chhatrapati Shivaji’s stirring resistance — and Tipu Sultan, who was similarly vilified in Karnataka. Between June 1 and 10, police across the state registered at least 20 first information reports (FIRs) over social media updates and display photos that featured Aurangzeb or Tipu Sultan. This crackdown was made easier by the fact that in February this year, social media company Meta – which runs WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook – rolled out a new feature update syncing WhatsApp updates on other Meta platforms for wider reach and visibility. This, explained cyber experts, also increased the chances of incendiary content reaching a wider audience. “Previously, we could only check the status of a person if their number was saved in our contact list but now due to integration of platforms, anybody from anywhere can check status updates and these things go viral within minutes,” said Sanjay Shintre, incharge of Maharashtra cyber cell. Senior Congress leader Husain Dalwai said the trend of valorising the two kings is a direct outcome of aggressive communal politics. “Muslims should stop reacting to communal politics. I too oppose using Aurangzeb’s picture as WhatsApp status, but what is wrong with Tipu Sultan who fought against the British until his last breath?” Advocate Salman Maldar, who secured bail for the young Narendra Bhagana fan and three other juveniles in Kolhapur, said section 295A of IPC, usually applied for deliberate and malicious acts intended to hurt religious feelings and disturb peace, should not have been used against his minor clients. “They did not insult any god or goddess. Also, both Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan were rulers at different times and are not banned in this country by any law.” Aurangabad member of Parliament (MP) Imtiyaz Jaleel said Tipu Sultan’s picture is part of the original copy of the Constitution drafted by BR Ambedkar and is preserved in the Parliament House library while Aurangzeb’s grave is an Archaeological Survey of India-protected monument. “I have challenged Devendra Fadnavis to present any one case in which a person was booked for showing a picture of Aurangzeb in the last 75 years,” he added, questioning the lack of police action against Telangana lawmaker T Raja Singh who openly called for violence against Muslims at a Jan Aakrosh rally in Mumbai earlier this year. Last year, Singh was pulled up by the Telangana high court for exhorting people to boycott all Muslim shops and businesses. Political Designs “History has shown that the BJP benefited from the Ram Mandir movement but various Hindu organisations began working for it from 1985 onward,” said a former BJP leader who was a core strategist for the party in Maharashtra until his recent defection. “It is trying to replicate the same strategy across the country to ensure a big win in 2024. The tension in Maharashtra is just part of that design, especially since the party dropped seats in the 2019 assembly elections, and lost power.” “Maharashtra Mission 45” is a key part of the BJP’s strategy to win in 2024; 17 of the 45 Lok Sabha constituencies on their radar are with other parties at present. These are Baramati, Satara, Aurangabad, Chandrapur, Buldhana, Kalyan, Palghar, Shirur, Raigad, South Mumbai, South Central Mumbai, North West Mumbai, Shirdi, Kolhapur, Hatkanangale, Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Madhe and Osmanabad. Except for Chandrapur, SHS has held one or multiple Jan Aakrosh rallies in each of these constituencies; in some cases, instances of communal violence and retaliation have ensued. SHS held 12 rallies in western Maharashtra in the last six months, each of them with attendance upwards of 100,000. This sugar belt from Sangli to Kolhapur has a strong network of cooperative bodies that forms the backbone of the region’s rural economy. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress have dominated the cooperative sector for decades. Polarisation on religious lines could significantly alter the politics in western Maharashtra’s 11 Lok Sabha and 75 assembly seats. But the region that may worry the BJP the most is Vidarbha, where it suffered its biggest electoral setback in 2019, losing 15 assembly seats it held earlier. Once again, SHS has campaigned extensively here, particularly in Akola, Amravati, Yavatmal and Fadnavis’s bastion Nagpur, where the party lost a crucial legislative council election this year. In Marathwada, which sends eight MPs to Lok Sabha, SHS has focused on the already-polarised district of Aurangabad, now represented by All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen. The violence during Ram Navmi here was the worst reported this year. Likewise, Parbhani, where the campaign against love jihad was launched after Walkar’s death, is a Shiv Sena (UBT) stronghold. The oft-heard phrase during elections here is, ‘Khan payije ka baan’ (Would you prefer a Khan or the bow and arrow?). With the Shiv Sena splintered in two, crucial seats in the region appear up for grabs. ----- Source: What’s Behind The Communal Tinge To Maharashtra Politics? 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