Thursday, August 31, 2023

Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan under the Taliban

By Adis Duderija, New Age Islam 31 August 2023 The resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan some two years ago has marked a devastating setback for women's rights in the country. The severity of the situation is highlighted by a joint report by Richard Bennett, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, and Dorothy Estrada-Tanck, Chair of the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls. Their report unequivocally states that women and girls in Afghanistan are enduring extreme discrimination that amounts to gender persecution and can be characterized as gender apartheid. In this article I want to describe the harrowing realities faced by Afghan women and emphasize the urgent need for international intervention. Photo: Renew Europe ----- Systematic Suppression of Women's Rights Under Taliban rule, women's rights have been systematically suppressed, suffocating every aspect of their lives. The Taliban's strict interpretation of Islamic law has led to the banning of women from attending schools, working in NGO offices, and participating in public office and the judiciary. The above-mentioned joint report states that "women and girls in Afghanistan are experiencing severe discrimination that may amount to gender persecution – a crime against humanity – and be characterised as gender apartheid, as the de facto authorities appear to be governing by systemic discrimination with the intention to subject women and girls to total domination". These restrictions not only curtail women's personal freedoms but also hinder the progress of Afghan society as a whole. Education is a vital tool for empowerment and social advancement, and by denying women access to education, the Taliban is ensuring the perpetuation of gender inequality and limiting the country's potential for development. The Taliban's oppressive policies also extend to the economic sphere, where women's ability to work and contribute to their families' livelihoods has been severely curtailed. By excluding women from the workforce, the Taliban is not only depriving them of financial independence but also undermining the overall economic growth and stability of Afghanistan. It is essential for the international community to recognize the significance of economic empowerment for women and advocate for inclusive economic policies that enable Afghan women to participate fully and contribute to the rebuilding of their nation. Brutal Imposition of Punishments The Taliban's harsh interpretation of Islamic law has resulted in the brutal imposition of punishments on women. Stoning, lashing, and amputation have become tools of intimidation and control. These cruel practices not only cause physical harm but also instill fear among women, effectively silencing their voices and perpetuating a climate of oppression. The international community must condemn such barbaric acts and take decisive action to protect the fundamental rights and dignity of Afghan women. The brutal punishments imposed by the Taliban serve as a chilling deterrent to women who dare to challenge the status quo. By subjecting women to such inhumane treatment, the Taliban aims to enforce conformity and maintain a patriarchal power structure. The international community must make it clear that such actions are unacceptable and stand in direct violation of universally recognized human rights principles. Sanctions, diplomatic pressure, and targeted assistance should be employed to hold the Taliban accountable for their egregious violations and work towards dismantling the culture of fear that prevails in Afghanistan. Widespread Restrictions on Women's Rights The Taliban's edicts have imposed widespread restrictions on the rights of women and girls, encompassing various aspects of their lives. From curbing their freedom of movement and dictating their attire and behaviour to limiting their access to education, healthcare, and justice, Afghan women find themselves trapped in a web of oppressive regulations. This should be recognised for what it is, a form of apartheid, gender-apartheid. The freedom of movement is a basic human right that enables individuals to pursue education, employment, and opportunities for personal growth. By restricting women's mobility, the Taliban effectively confines them to their homes, stripping them of agency and autonomy. This not only hampers their ability to access essential services but also perpetuates their reliance on male relatives, further exacerbating gender inequality. The Taliban's imposition of strict dress codes and behavioural expectations further reinforces the notion that women's bodies and actions must be controlled. Such restrictions infringe upon women's right to self-expression and individuality, reducing them to mere objects subjected to societal norms and expectations. The international community must advocate for the freedom of expression and choice, encouraging Afghan women to reclaim their identities and challenge the oppressive norms imposed upon them. Access to education, healthcare, and justice is vital for the well-being and empowerment of women. The Taliban's restrictions in these areas deny women their basic rights, leaving them vulnerable and marginalized. Education is not only a means to acquire knowledge but also a tool for empowerment and social change. By denying women access to education, the Taliban perpetuates a cycle of ignorance and dependence. Similarly, limited access to healthcare and justice denies women essential services and denies them recourse in cases of abuse or discrimination. The Taliban's treatment of women in Afghanistan is nothing short of a gender apartheid, as characterized by experts in the field. Afghan women, who were making significant strides towards empowerment and equality over the past two decades, now face an uncertain and perilous future. Their rights and freedoms have been erased, and their voices have been silenced by a regime that is inherently anti-women. According to the UN, around 80% of girls and young women of school age are not in education. This systematic suppression of women's rights, brutal imposition of punishments, and widespread restrictions on their freedoms demand urgent attention from the international community. Efforts must be made to protect their rights, provide aid and support, and hold the Taliban accountable for their actions. Only through collective action can we hope to restore justice, dignity, and equality for the women of Afghanistan and prevent a humanitarian crisis from further deepening. The time to act is now. ---- Adis Duderija is a Senior Lecturer in the Study of Islam and Society, Griffith University 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

When Raksha Bandhan Was Celebrated as Beautiful Tradition to Strengthen Hindu-Muslim Ties!

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam 31 August 2023 The [true] believers are brothers [and sisters] among them. So, make peace between your brothers [and sisters] and remain mindful of God, so that you may receive mercy. (The Holy Qur'an 49:10) The bond between a brother and a sister is unique. It is full of love, unconditional support, camaraderie, fights and friendship. The beautiful Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan beautifully seeks to strengthen the bond between brothers and sisters. Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the full moon day of Shravan — the fifth month of the luni-solar calendar. It has great significance for the entire Indian subcontinent, as it is connected to the arrival of the South-West monsoons. Shravan is also considered a month of Upvaas or fasting. Etymologically, Raksha means “protection” and Bandhan connotes the strong brother-sister “bond”. Thus, this occasion beautifully signifies the enhanced ties between brothers and sisters reinforcing mutual protection, vital support and amicable understanding. On Raksha Bandhan, sisters tie the thread called Rakhi on her brother’s wrist. This beautiful thread is believed to protect her brother from all jinxes and hexes in life. In return, brothers take an oath that they will stand by their sisters, both in joy and grief, sorrow and celebration. This is something which is similar to the Islamic concept of Sila Rahmi (strengthening the ties of kinship). Prophet Mohammad laid great emphasis on evolving relationship with all family members, particularly between the brothers and sisters. One of his traditions is: “Charity (Sadaqah) given to the poor is virtuous, but an ordinary act. However, by giving charity to a relative (particularly brother and sister), one achieves two noble objectives: Sadaqah and Silah Rahmi (upholding the family bond).” However, Prophet Mohammad cautioned about the sibling rivalry or envy which sometimes turns into an unfavourable form of Qat’a al-Rahm (severing family ties) leading to a disastrous result. As a matter of fact, sibling rivalry is an inbuilt human emotion that turns into ethical flaw, when it involves vying for parental compassion, attention or primacy or preference over the other siblings. Such kind of envy (Rashk) is an inherent and indispensable trait that can be overlooked until it takes an ugly form of jealousy (Hasad) which is not healthy or positive in any way. In his word of caution, the Prophet stated: “beware of jealousy; for jealousy eats good deeds just as the fire eats wood”. But at the same time, the Prophet is reported to have exhorted the parents to accord equal rights and compassion to their children — sons and daughters. Clearly, most sibling rivalry results from the perceived loss of equal amount of attention, compassion, love and care from the parents. It is unsettling for daughters or sons if they feel they are getting unequal amounts of attention from their parents and the other siblings are given greater care and respect than themselves. Often, too much expectation for good behaviour from the elder sibling is also a cause of rivalry, as Kyla Boyse, an eminent psychologist has noted. Conversely to the sibling rivalry, on Raksha Bandhan, brothers express their love and care for their sisters by wearing Rakhi all day long and sometimes for a week. They gave gifts in form of cash, clothes, perfumes etc. Exchanging gifts with siblings is an amazing way to strengthen ties and reduce rivalry between siblings. Prophet said: “Exchange gifts with one another, you will create love and goodwill amongst yourselves.” The beautiful festival of Raksha Bandhan has been celebrated with great enthusiasm and brotherly-sisterly love in our country for centuries. Many stories of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood related to this festival are also popular. These stories give us a refreshing account of the communal harmony and unity of the two different communities in modern India, and seek to reimagine and strengthen brotherhood and goodwill between them. At a time when the cordial relations between the majority and minority communities are adversely affected due to the polarization and political situation, there are many stories related to Raksha Bandhan festival which ignite the flame of mutual respect and understanding. One of them is as follows: In 1905, when Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India announced the partition of Bengal, this decision tore apart the country. It was taken after discussions in a meeting between Lord Curzon and some Muslim leaders who supported the two-nation theory. In the meeting, the importance of the need for a separate country for Muslims to identify them was explained. Curzon believed that due to the large Muslim population in Assam, it should be separated from the Hindu-majority areas of West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha. Thus, the order was passed in August 1905. It came into force from 16 October 1905. The freedom fighter and poet-philosopher of India Rabindranath Tagore realized the 'divide and rule' intention of the British government and strongly opposed it. He resorted to the Rakhi tradition as a beautiful blend to strengthen the Hindu-Muslim ties. On his initiative, they encouraged each other to tie Rakhi in the spirit of national integration and communal harmony and brotherhood. Every Hindu was tying Rakhi to every fellow Muslim and Muslims tied Rakhis to their Hindu brothers. This historical scene, indeed, would have been quite fascinating. As brothers and sisters, we Indian Muslims and Hindus should help each other in these trying times and never hurt our brothers and sisters on religious and communal grounds. As siblings share their pain and problems and together, they make their life easier, we can also set an example of stronger and healthy Hindu-Muslim brotherhood. Siblings can always make mistakes but still they learn from them and rectify them. We must forgive each other, on this occasion of Rakhi Purnima which symbolises unconditional love and trust between brothers and sisters and improving their relationships of they deteriorate. ------ A Regular Columnist with, Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is an Indo-Islamic scholar and English-Arabic-Urdu writer. He has graduated from a leading Sufi Islamic seminary in India, and acquired Diploma in Qur'anic sciences and a Certificate in Uloom ul Hadith from Al-Azhar Institute of Islamic Studies. He has also participated in the 3-year “Madrasa Discourses” program initiated by the University of Notre Dame, USA. 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

Introduction And Imposition of a Fear Factor Is an Infallible Political Strategy

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 31 August 2023 Mohit Yadav, a bus conductor hailing from Mainpuri and formerly employed by Uttar Pradesh Roadways, tragically took his own life by leaping in front of a train on Monday. This distressing act followed his dismissal, stemming from a viral video that captured him halting a bus to allow two Muslim passengers to pray in Bareilly. Mohit Yadav ----- Alas, Mohit Yadav's nice gesture of goodwill resulted in his dismissal! A non-Muslim showing consideration and a sense of understanding and accommodation towards Muslim passengers was actually an act of goodness that should have been praised by all and sundry. Had he been a Muslim, this act could have invited criticism. Even in that case, a dressing- down would have been enough. But he wasn't a Muslim. He was a conscientious individual. Otto von Bismarck wrote that an autocratic State's first objective was to kill an individual's conscience. When a State fails to kill an individual or collective conscience, it eliminates those who're conscientious. Government is afraid of people who're sympathetic towards a beleaguered community and driven by a palpable sense of conscience. It's the government's despotic way to drive home the point that whoever shows even a smidgen of concern and consideration towards Muslims, will be dismissed and not just reprimanded. A clear and categorical message is being sent out that helping Muslims will incur the State's ire. In his seminal essay, 'Steps To Being A Theocratic State,' Pakistan's former Air Marshal Muhammad Asghar Khan wrote that, "A despotic government eventually becomes either Nihilistic or Fanatic." In the case of Pakistan, despotism paved the way for fanaticism. The same is happening in India. The despotic political dispensation is now a totalitarian and zealot political force. Its exclusive religious agenda doesn't allow minorities to exercise their fundamental rights. Those who dare speak on behalf of them (minorities and oppressed ones) are quickly branded as traitors and fifth columnists like that poor Mohit Yadav. All autocratic governments resort to the introduction and imposition of a loud and clear fear factor. This is an infallible political strategy. We're living in terribly iffy times when the voices of sanity and conscience are being publicly squashed and muzzled. ---- 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

Rising Religious Extremism and Intolerance A Cause of Great Concern for Humanity

By New Age Islam Staff Writer 30 August 2023 Security Council Resolution Should Be Implemented By All Member Countries To Prevent Hate Speech And Incitement To Violence. Main Points: 1. Religious extremism has spread across religious communities. 2. Earlier only Islamic countries witnesses large scale religious extremism. 3. Denmark and Sweden have become a centre of religious intolerance in recent years. 4. India has seen a sharp rise in religious extremism and intolerance against minorities. 1. 5.Religious violence creates a vicious cycle of hatred and violence. ------ Religious extremism, demonstrations of hate and violence in the name of religion has risen sharply in the world in recent years and its circle is constantly widening. Earlier, only Islamic countries witnessed religious extremism and intolerance and terrorism as end result, but in recent years the West has also witnessed religious extremism against minorities. This intolerance is sometimes demonstrated by individual ideologues and sometimes by groups subscribing to extremist and xenophobic ideology. Sometimes, the state institutionalises and justifies intolerance and religious extremism by allowing it in the name of freedom of expression. Realising the seriousness and gravity of the situation, the UN Nation's Security Council adopted a resolution (2686) on June 14, 2023 urging the international community to prevent incitement, condemn hate speech, Racism and Acts of extremism. The resolution stated: "Recognising that hate speech, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance, gender discrimination and acts of extremism can contribute to conflict, the Security Council today unanimously adopted a resolution that, among other things, urged Member States to publicly condemn violence, hate speech and extremism and encouraged them to prevent the spread of intolerant ideology and incitement to hatred. By the terms of Council resolution 2686 (2023) (to be issued as document S/RES/2686(2023)), the 15-nation organ encouraged all relevant stakeholders to share good practices promoting tolerance and peaceful coexistence and address hate speech and extremism in a manner consistent with applicable international law. Member States, in particular, were called upon to have regard to inter-religious and intercultural dialogue as an important tool to achieve peace, social stability and internationally agreed development goals." It has been observed that despite approving the resolution and being signatories to it, the member countries have not taken fruitful steps to prevent hate speech, racism, incitement to violence and acts of extremism. Religious extremism is on the rise, not only in Islamic countries but also in the West and in Asia. In recent years, Sweden and Denmark have become a centre of hate speech and demonstrations of hate against the Muslim minorities. The demonstrations of hate is justified by the doctrine of freedom of speech and burning of the Quran, a religious scripture of a religious community, is allowed in the name of freedom of speech, though in principle, it is a demonstration of hate of a particular community or religion. Though Denmark has realised the difference between freedom of speech and freedom of demonstration of hate and has expressed its resolve to ban burnings of Quran or Bible in the country, Sweden is reluctant to so on the grounds that it would entail amending the Constitution. In Pakistan, religious extremism is on the rise. The Christian community of Jaranwala were attacked and their houses and churches were set ablaze or destroyed by a violent mob last week. Their religious scriptures were also desecrated and burnt. This cannot be called freedom of expression. In India, religious intolerance and violence incited against the minority communities, Muslims and Christians by hate speech is on the rise. Christians in Manipur and Delhi were attacked and their churches were set alight while Muslims have been subjected to mob lynching and attacks on their houses and places of worship. All this is the result of hate speech and incitement to violence by communal groups and individuals. Recently, children of minority communities have been subjected hate speech and lynching. Recently, a teacher in Uttar Pradesh of India, Tripta Tyagi instructed the Hindu children of nursery classes to slap their 7-year Muslim classmate and the child was insulted and beaten up for an hour. This phenomenon is highly alarming and needs immediate attention. In March 2014, the UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief had said: "Manifestations of collective hatred do not erupt like a volcano but they are caused by human beings, whose actions or omissions can set in motion a seemingly unstoppable negative dynamic in societies which seems to be comparable to that caused by a natural catastrophe." He also warned that feelings of collective religious hatred are often caused by a combination of fear and contempt which can trigger vicious cycle of mistrust, narrow mindedness and collective hysteria and called on states to take an active role in trust building through public institutions as a trustworthy guarantor of freedom of religion or belief of religion. The irony that the public institutions that are supposed to contribute to trust building and work as trustworthy guarantors of freedom of religion or belief of religion are spreading hate among communities. Schools in India are fast becoming nurseries of hate in the light of recent demonstrations of hate against the Muslim community. A few months ago a low caste minor boy was beaten up by his upper caste teacher for drinking water from a pitcher meant only for upper caste teachers. The boy had died. The UN resolution 2686 urges the international community to condemn hate speech but in India hate speeches go un-condemned. The national media are involved in promoting hatred between the majority and minority communities but no action is taken against them despite the instruction of the Supreme Court to do so. The UN Rapporteur had rightly observed that religion was used or purposes of national identity politics. This is true in the background of incidents in Denmark, France and India. It is high time the international community took concrete measures to prevent religious extremism and intolerance in the world. If not prevented immediately, the rising extremism will push more countries towards ethnic violence and communal fire. The choice is ours. 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

Muddled And Addled Theories

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 30 August 2023 “The sexual pleasures of Paradise mentioned in the verses of the Quran are a symbol of spiritual connection rather than a sublimated version of the pleasures of worldly sexuality. Even though what one experiences on earth is only a mirror of paradise, one can only make allusions to paradise through the language of the earthly sexual union since it is the purest and most potent form of physical pleasure one may have on earth.” Can you make heads or tails of the aforementioned statement? Sex is sex. Adding spirituality to it makes it a guilt-ridden activity. Spirituality, like love, is the most overused term. Let spirituality and sex remain separate. The Quranic Houries are there for 'that' purpose only. Don't try to sugar-coat it. Quran, like any other scripture, is a book of mundane temptations. Don't glorify or sublimate them. Jabalpur's Mahesh Yogi tried to spiritualise sex in the US and ended up raping the actress, Mia Farrow. Rajnish also did the same and relegated his spiritual and meditation sessions to uninhibited orgies and debaucheries. By the way, Rajnish was also from the same region, the exponent of transcendental meditation hailed from. I'm talking about that fraud Mahesh Yogi. What type of spiritual connexions the devout Muslims will have with the luscious Houries? If they're not there for men's sexual gratification, why did Allah create them? One gentleman writes that not Houries, but the people in Jannah will have the company of a running stream. Don't you get to see running streams on earth? Followers believe that heaven will be full of exotic and exquisite things that aren't made available to humans on earth by a sadistic and tantalizing Allah. They'll enjoy those things when they go there. Is a running stream a rarity in this world? Who're you fooling, my dear? All these misleading explanations are cover-ups. The apologists of all religions are the most unscrupulous people. They resort to Naro wa Kunjaro wa (from Mahabharat, when Yudhishthir confounded Dronacharya during the Battle of Kurukshetra) or the Greek poetess Sappho's Enoma-Enona (literally, this can be, that can be from her ' Fragments'). Quran's Houries are offered by Allah (or Muhammad?) to pander to the basic human instincts. Accept this unvarnished truth and stop advancing muddled and addled theories. ---- 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

Monday, August 28, 2023

Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan: Violent Non-State Actors Are Supremacist Criminals, Not Religious; Alleged 'Hurt Sentiments' Are A Mere Excuse

By Irfan Engineer, New Age Islam 28 August 2023 A mob vandalised and burnt eight churches and several homes in Pakistan following accusations of blasphemy on 16th August in Faisalabad district’s Jaranwala tehsil in Punjab province. Two Christian men have been charged by the local police under the blasphemy laws for desecrating the holy Quran and abusing Prophet Mohammed. One Christian’s home was vandalised and burnt down following accusation of blasphemy against Islam by him, besides other homes in a Christian colony. Churches vandalised include the Catholic Church, the Salvation Army Church and the Pentecostal Church, United Presbyterain Church, Allied Foundation Church, and Shehroonwala Church. The Moderator Bishop of the Church of Pakistan alleged that the Bible was desecrated and Christians were tortured during the attack. Pakistan’s care taker Prime Minister Anwaar ul-Haq Kakar condemned the vandalism and warned of stern action against those who violate law and target the Christian minority. The National Commission for Human Rights, a government body in Pakistan described the violence as “sad and shameful”. The heinous act on the part of Muslim religious extremist vandalising the churches and homes of poor, marginalised, helpless and innocent Christians must be condemned in strongest words by all right thinking and law-abiding persons. Not just Christians, but many Muslims also have been accused of blasphemy and lynched to death. Governor of Punjab - Salman Taseer was killed by his body guard after he called for release of Asiya Bibi, a Christian farm worker who was acquitted of the charges of blasphemy by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and spared from the noose. There was a global campaign for release of Asiya Bibi, who refused to drink water offered by two Muslim women. Days later she was accused of blasphemy. Mashail Khan, a student, was lynched to death for being an atheist. 74 people have been killed by mobs since the year 1990. From 1967 to 2014, over 1,300 people have been accused of blasphemy, with Muslims constituting most of those accused. Vide 1980 amendment to the Pakistani Penal Code, section 298-A was introduced, which made it a punishable offence to defile “by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly”, the sacred name of any wife of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), or his companions or the rightly guided Caliphs. The 1984 amendment targeted the Ahmadi community and criminalised the acts of them referring to any other person except Prophet Muhammad and his companions as Ameer-ul-Mumineen or Khilafat-ul-Mumineen or any other person other than a wife of Prophet Muhammad as Ummul-Mumineen, and any person other than family members of Prophet Muhammad as Ahle-bait. In other words, no other person can be revered and accorded same degree of sacredness and status as Prophet Muhammad and his family members by the Ahmadi community. This provision directly obstructed the freedom of the Ahmadi community to believe that the founder of their community Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) is the Mahdi (Guided One) and the Messiah expected by Muslims to come at the end of times and bring about the final triumph of Islam. The blasphemy law was made even more stringent in 1986 by introducing Section 295-C which makes defiling the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) punishable by death. Death is a minimum and the only punishment and the trial should be conducted only by a Muslim Judge. The definition of defiling was not provided for such a severe punishment and the act of defiling was made very inclusive, “by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly”. More the law was made stringent, more accusations were followed. At least 1,855 people have been charged under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws between 1987 and February 2021. Though there have been no judicial executions under the blasphemy provisions of the Pakistani Penal Code, stringent provisions encourage the religious extremists to carry out extra-judicial executions through street vigilante acts and lynchings, with the vigilantes acting as the judge, jury, and prosecutor. From 1947 to 2021, the vigilantes have killed 89 people, including the Governor of Punjab Province – Salman Taseer, the Minister of Minorities – Shahbaz Bhatti, a High Court judge – Arif Iqbal Bhatti - in his chambers. The blasphemy laws have enabled the rise of right-wing Islamist parties which compete with each other to defend the stringent provisions and they grow in strength with every frivolous accusation of blasphemy, particularly targeting the Christians, Ahmadis and other minorities, that are often levelled out of personal vendetta. To revive fear of God, affection to the Islamic Prophet Mohammed and service to people with particular emphasis on government officials and cabinet members was one of the 15 points in the manifesto of the Muttahida Majili-e-Amal party. The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a far-right organisation, calls for blasphemers to be beheaded. The rise of TLP has seen an increase in filing of blasphemy cases. Religion in South Asia has served as a far stronger mobilizational tool in the long run rather than any other cultural unifying factor like ethnicity, language, civic nationalism, or race. During anti-colonial struggle, the idea of freedom and the need to unify people of diverse religions, linguistic groups, and castes, the idea of inclusive civic nationalism and the promise of rights to the marginalised sections of the society had a greater appeal drawing all peoples into the freedom movement. Mohammed Ali Jinnah succeeded in instilling fear among the Muslim minority of getting overwhelmed by the Hindu majority and that Muslims would be forced to live a subjugated life. Jinnah succeeded in using religion as a unifier. Language proved to be a unifying factor for the Bengali speaking in the then East Pakistan as they were discriminated. Tamil language served as a rallying force in Sri Lanka against the Sinhala hegemony in the North Eastern region of the country. Language unified the Tamil people to resist the hegemony of Hindi speaking North in India. With these exceptions, the idea of religion based ethno-nationalism has proved to be a more potent tool. Religion based ethno-nationalism is on the rise in India, and indeed in South Asia. Religion is deeply rooted in the psyche of South Asians and religious establishments are a powerful influence in politics. Religion is salient in everyday life bringing people together; for some followers, it explains the purpose of life and other existential queries; it is a source of social norms of behaviour, responsibilities, duties and entitlements; it is one of the sources of laws; festivals bring people together for enjoyment and celebrations; parables, epics, narration of stories and shared memories convey the social behavioural norms and ideals of life; it standardizes life cycle rituals from birth to death; it inspires some to render selfless service to the needy; and finally it instils fear of God for deviant behaviour, and expectation of rewards for good behaviour. Religion to some helps overcome alienation by enlarging the notion of self as a social self and defines relations between self and others – often hierarchical relations. The most important reason for salience of religion in everyday life is that an army of religious preachers have a platform to preach, be in regular touch with large number of followers and interpret the text, converse with them in a language they understand using metaphors that make sense to the people and convince them that their way of life, culture and beliefs are natural and best. The army of religious preachers standardise the way of life, furnishing some stability and certainty. Existential anxieties and fear of God is a weapon in the hands of the preachers to standardise behaviour of those belonging to the community. The community must also stand up for those who are in unfortunate circumstances like natural disasters, manmade disasters or economic conditions, despite their conformity with the believers. The army of gatekeepers of religion make followers of the religion comfortable with their status-quo and their “here and now” existence. Aura of sacredness is essential part of religion to legitimise beliefs. Attack on sacred threatens the whole social existence and can inspire some to sacrifice their life, liberty and property in order to restore the sacred or deter further attacks on the sacred, and to ensure the normal continuity in life. The deeper the notion of sacred, stronger the sacrifice one can make and more violent the community can become. Laws that seek to “protect” the sacred give legitimacy and a stamp of the ultimate, final and universal truth to the beliefs, beyond any critical examination. It raises the expectation of believers that even non-believers and believers of other religions must accept the sacred nature of their beliefs. Finally, it legitimises violence on those who do not accept the “universal” idea of sacred. The blasphemy laws become a tool in the hands of the army of preachers and the self-appointed gatekeepers of the religion to establish their hegemony socially and culturally. The blasphemy laws seeking to protect a particular belief ends up privileging one sect or denomination’s beliefs over the others. Materialism, acquisition of knowledge from multiple secular sources, and pursuit of selfish interests loosens the community bonds and the will to sacrifice for the notion of sacred reduces. In other words, materialism, selfish interests and knowledge from multiple sources increases the levels of tolerance. Materialism in the South Asian societies hasn’t developed as in the global north. Protection of beliefs does not necessarily protect religion. It may even cause disservice to the religion sought to be protected. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and indeed all religions have evolved to serve the people and meet the challenges of the time. There is humongous diversity of faith and practices within each religion, leading to many denominations, sects and sub-sects. This diversity emerged as the societies developed technologically, gained new knowledge and new ideas emerged. Some religious establishments adopted and accommodated to the changes, while others resisted. For example, when the telescope of Galileo proved that the earth is moving round the sun rather than the other way round, the beliefs and dogmas preached by the church had to be reconsidered. If the beliefs and dogmas were protected, there would be no further development of knowledge. It would have been impossible to stop research and development of knowledge in order to protect beliefs and dogmas. Doors of other religions would open up that did not impede research and knowledge, leading to migration of the believers. When developments in medical science made organ transplantation possible, religious beliefs were confronted with a now problem – were such procedures in consonance with religious beliefs. If religious beliefs opposed abortions, women needing abortions would migrate out or force a reconsideration of such beliefs. At times religion is protected when beliefs that are not in consonance with the times are revised and reconsidered. Religious beliefs have to march along with the new developments in knowledge. Blasphemy laws therefore may not be in the interest of religion. Law should not protect beliefs or religion, it should rather protect the right of every person to believe. The former privileges the religious establishment, while the later protects an individual’s right to believe, and therefore strikes a balance between protecting beliefs and evolution of religious ideas, theology and knowledge. A committed believer does not and must not get disturbed when religious beliefs are attacked or what they hold sacred is violated. They would rely on God to take care of such behaviour. When a Jewish woman threw dirt at Prophet Mohammed, neither the Holy Prophet nor his companions or believers wanted her to be punished. On the contrary, when one day she did not throw dirt at the Holy Prophet, he inquired about her and found that she was sick. He prayed for her good health. Similarly, Jesus prayed for forgiving those who crucified him saying they did not know what they were doing. Gandhiji said that he would not kill anyone to save a cow which was sacred for him. He said that he would rather sacrifice his own life to save a cow. Respect for what is sacred to one’s religion by the followers of other religions should come from within and from appreciation of what it means and signifies rather than out of fear of law. Response to attack on what one holds sacred should be dialogue, and explaining the meaning of what it stands for. Ideas should be fought with ideas and not violence – either by the non-state actors, or even the state. However, any instigation and incitement of violence should be punished in accordance with the law. Violence by the non-state actors who act on their alleged “hurt sentiments” when what they hold sacred is being attacked, do not defend the religion. They defend their hegemony over the weaker and marginalised sections. They enjoy their power and control over the helpless people. They do not want to instil fear of God, but want the already weaker people to fear them. 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

Anti-Blasphemy Terrorism in Pakistan in A Global Perspective: The Role Of ‘Deep State' And Islamist Supremacist Ideology

By Grace Mubashir, New Age Islam 28 August 2023 The army, the intelligence community, and/or other governmental organizations no longer make up Pakistan's deep state. Religious groups across the nation are the "state within the state's" predictable allies. There is a rising concern about the court joining the deep State group as a partner. An International Crisis Group assessment from a few years ago claimed that "the judiciary has failed to uphold the constitution and to oppose Islamic legislation that violates fundamental rights." The article made note of the fact that "the legacy of military rule in Pakistan includes discriminatory religious laws that undermine the rule of law, encourage vigilantism, and embolden religious extremists." The research highlighted how the nation's blasphemy law discriminates against people based on their religious beliefs and "imposes harsher sentences, including the death penalty, for offences against Islam." According to the International Crisis Group (2008), Pakistan's blasphemy law has been "widely abused, particularly by radical Sunni groups targeting religious minorities." Since then, nothing has changed, and things have really gotten worse. The most recent incidents—that too within two months—have demonstrated that even Pakistan's judiciary cannot be viewed as the last bastion of the common man. How Frequent Is Blasphemy-Related Violence in Pakistan? Blasphemy convictions are prevalent in Pakistan, despite the fact that no one has ever been executed. In addition, vigilante crowds have massacred dozens of people even before a case has been put on trial, even though the majority of convictions are overturned on appeal by higher courts. People with mental problems, famous politicians, members of religious minorities, students, and priests are among those who have been killed. Among other methods of extrajudicial execution, they have been burned to death, hanged by mobs, shot in courtrooms, and hacked to death on the side of the road. At least 85 people have been murdered in connection with blasphemy accusations since 1990, according to local media and experts. Regardless of the evidence, judges considering blasphemy trials have reported feeling pressured to convict due to threats of physical violence if they don't. Local police have been observed stepping aside and letting mobs carry out their attacks when anti-blasphemy violence flares up, frequently out of concern that they could be labelled as "blasphemers" themselves for not allowing lynchings. Aljazeera had reported this March increasing incidents of blasphemy retributions in Pakistan often targeting minorities. Pakistan's National Assembly passed a resolution on Jan. 17, 2023, to strengthen the country's blasphemy laws, which carry the death sentence for insulting the Prophet Muhammad. The punishment is currently 10 years in prison or life in prison for anyone who is believed to have insulted the prophet's companions, which may have included thousands of early Muslims. Human rights advocates are worried that minorities, particularly Shiite Muslims, who are critical of many influential early Muslims, could be targeted by the new rules. After Iran, Pakistan has the harshest blasphemy laws in the world. Over the previous three decades, around 1,500 Pakistanis have been accused of blasphemy. In a case highlighted by the international media, a university lecturer named Junaid Hafeez was given the death penalty in 2019 after being found guilty of defaming the Prophet on Facebook. His sentence has been challenged in court. Although there have never been any executions, Pakistan has seen extrajudicial killings for blasphemy. More than 80 people have been killed by mobs and vigilantes since 1990 on the grounds of allegedly insulting Islam. Pakistan's blasphemy law came under the global media spotlight almost a decade ago when a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, was sentenced by a court to death for alleged blasphemy by Pakistan's Supreme Court. The visit of Taseer (former Governor of Punjab) to Bibi was seen as a show of solidarity for the Christian woman. Following his visit, Taseer said that the provisions of Pakistan's "Black Law" regarding blasphemy were "unjust" and "unacceptable". Taseer's comments eventually led to his assassination by his own attendant in Islamabad on January 4, 2011. After several years, Asia Bibi's conviction was annulled by the Supreme Court in 2018, but her release was met with protests from thousands of Islamists all over Pakistan. Similar incidents were reported during this period, most of which were targeted at Christian minorities. One of the most prominent incidents was the mob attack in Joseph Colony, Lahore's Christian community, in March 2013, when a quarrel between two friends resulted in blasphemy charges and the destruction of up to 150 houses belonging to poor Christians. There have been reported several similar cases and incidents related to blasphemy in Pakistan in the coming years. Harsh Amendments to The PPC Under General Zia Blasphemy law in Pakistan is mainly derived from Sections 295 and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). The articles of incorporation essentially duplicate the amendments made to the Anglo-Indian Penal Code of 1860 regarding religious offences that apply to all religions. In 1927, Section 295-A was added to the Indian Penal Code following general tensions between the Hindu and Muslim communities. After gaining independence in 1947, Pakistan maintained a Penal Code inherited from the British colonial government. However, between 1947 and 1977, only 10 convictions related to the crime of anti-religion were handed down. Meanwhile, the Pakistani state must deal with issues related to religion and ethnic minorities. The problem of the Ahmadis has remained a serious one since the riots against them in 1953. Successive governments have ignored their basic democratic rights, even under popular rule. For example, in 1974, during the reign of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the National Assembly amended the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan to state that anyone "did not believe in absolute finality of Prophethood standard of the prophecy of Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last prophet or declared himself a prophet, in any sense of the word or description, after Muhammad (peace be upon him) ), or recognize such a claimant as a prophet or religious reformer, who is not a Muslim for purposes of the Constitution or the law, which considers itself a sect within Islam, specifically referred to as a “non-Muslim religious minority”. However, they have been repeatedly harassed in Pakistan and even the basic rights of a minority community have been violated throughout the years. While a popular government (under Bhutto) did this draconian amendment to disempower the Ahmadis, it was during the military rule of General Zia, in the 1980s, that these ruthless provisions were further incorporated into the PPC. In 1991 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif introduced the mandatory death penalty for blasphemy after the National Assembly failed to step in to reject the death penalty upheld by the Federal Sharia Court in 1990. According to Section 295-B of PPC (Defiling, etc., of the Holy Qur'an), “Whoever wilfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Qur'an or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life.” As per Section 295(C) – use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet- “Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine” (Pakistan 1860). Section 298-A(Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of holy personages) says that “Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of any wife (Ummul Mumineen), or members of the family (Ahle-bait), of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), or any of the righteous Caliphs (Khulafa-e-Rashideen) or companions (Sahaaba) of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.” While Section 298-B pertains to punishment for the “misuse of epithets, descriptions and titles, etc., reserved for certain holy personages or place,” Section 298-C prescribes punishment for a person of Quadiani group (Ahmadis,) etc., “calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith” (Ibid). According to Pakistan's Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2004, offences relating to Section 295C of the PPC, which prohibits derogatory remarks against the Prophet Muhammad (Pakistan 1860), must be investigated by a police officer at the level of the superintendent or above (Pakistan 2005). It should be noted that prior to the Zia military regime (1977-1988), the CPP did not have any provisions on penalties for blasphemy. As reported by The News International, only 10 blasphemy cases were tried in court in the 58 years from 1927 to 1985, but since 1986, especially after the CPP amendment, there have been more than 4,000 cases, citing data collected by many different organizations and NGOs working on this issue. According to information compiled by the Lahore-based Centre for Social Justice, 1,472 people were charged under blasphemy laws between 1987 and 2016. Oddly enough, the majority of defendants were Muslim (730) while there were 501 Ahmadis, 205 Christians and 26 Hindus. In 2012, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of judges and lawyers found that blasphemy laws "serve the private interests of extremist religious groups and are not solely contrary to the Constitution of Pakistan", but also contrary to human rights standards, especially human rights standards", issues related to non-discrimination and freedom of expression and opinion”. The Special Rapporteur also recommends that “Pakistan abolish or amend its blasphemy laws in accordance with its human rights obligations.” In addition, it is clarified that “the compulsory application of the death penalty, as provided for in Article 295-C, is prohibited by international human rights law”. The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has found that all the institutions of the Pakistani state - the executive, parliament and members of the judiciary - have "actually abdicated their responsibilities under the law". human rights when people are accused of blasphemy, deliberately leaving them” to organized mobs and extremist religious groups, or face trials that are fundamentally unfair”. According to the ICJ report, people accused of blasphemy remain vulnerable even after they officially become victims of the criminal justice system. In many cases, blasphemy defendants awaiting trial or serving time after conviction have been assaulted while in custody and the authorities have failed to protect them. Some were even killed. In some cases, it is the police who are the perpetrators. Individuals who are prosecuted for blasphemy are also routinely denied fair trial guarantees: blasphemy-related proceedings are unduly protracted; prior to trial accused persons are frequently unduly denied bail and are held in custody for extended periods of time awaiting trial; and while detained, they are often held in solitary confinement for prolonged periods. Human rights groups and religious and ethnic minorities within and outside Pakistan continued to demand repeal of the draconian anti-blasphemy regulations which have been repeatedly misused to target minorities and all voices of dissent, but the successive governments remained apathetic. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its Annual Report 2020 noted that the “systematic enforcement of blasphemy and anti-Ahmadiyya laws, and authorities' failure to address forced conversions of religious minorities—including Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs—to Islam, severely restricted freedom of religion or belief.” On many occasions, the senior U.S. officials highlighted Pakistan's religious freedom violations in their interactions with government agencies. The Annual Report 2020 stated that several ongoing trials linked with blasphemy charges saw prolonged delays as cases were shifted between judges. Besides, as the Report says, “these laws create a culture of impunity for violent attacks following accusations.” The murder of Professor Khalid Hameed in March 2019 by a student over alleged 'anti-Islamic' comments is a case in point. Crowds attacked and burned Hindu shops and places of worship in Sindh following incidents involving allegations of blasphemy. Another mass attack against the Christian community was reported in Punjab recently. In another incident, up to 200 Christian families in Karachi were forced to flee their homes following mob attacks, after several Christian women were accused of blasphemy. USCIRF further pointed out that Ahmadi Muslims, whose faith has been criminalized, have become the target of "relentless repression by the authorities as well as social harassment because of their beliefs" by the government and the crowd. Blasphemy Laws in Global Perspective Blasphemy laws have historically been against the law for ages in many different nations. In nations where Semitic religions were dominant, this is clearly seen. Before Islam originated in the seventh century, scholars contend that blasphemy rules were a feature of both Judaism and Christianity. This took on greater significance in the modern age as ruling elites turned to strategies that would protect their regime interests and legitimacy. Many Western European nations still uphold blasphemy and related prohibitions, according to a study documented by the U.S. Congress. However, "there have been prosecutions in recent years in Austria, Finland, Germany, Greece, Switzerland, and Turkey." In some nations, they are never put into practice. However, "there have been prosecutions in recent years in Austria, Finland, Germany, Greece, Switzerland, and Turkey." In some nations, they are never put into practice. "Laws prohibiting proselytizing or insulting religion are prevalent" throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The study draws on the experiences of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to highlight some of the more recent incidents. The majority of West Asian and North African nations have strict laws against insulting or derogatory statements made about Islam or religion in general. They include Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and the West Bank, all of which have recently passed or tightened similar legislation. Comoros, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritania, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe are Sub-Saharan African nations have such laws outlawing blasphemy, proselytizing, or similar activities, albeit there is little information on their application. Blasphemy laws are strictly enforced in Pakistan and Afghanistan in South Asia. The British Indian Penal Code (1860), which includes a blasphemy statute that apparently "is used by all of India's faith groups when their religious sensibilities are hurt", is still incorporated into the Indian Penal Code of independent nations. Bangladesh also has laws that follow this pattern, but not to the point where blasphemy is punishable by death. However, in 2013, tens of thousands of Muslims protested in Dhaka, calling on the government to pass legislation outlawing blasphemy and punishing anyone who disrespects Islam with the death sentence. A new blasphemy law carrying the death penalty was being pushed for by the Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami (Al Jazeera, 7 April 2013). The Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen had to flee her country in 1994 as a result of an Islamist fatwa against her for "casting aspersions on Islam" in her novel Lajja. But prime minister Sheikh Hasina claimed that no such law was required because the existing laws were sufficient to handle such cases. Southeast Asian nations like Myanmar, Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia all have blasphemy-related legislation in force. Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, and New Zealand are other nations in the area as well as East Asia and the Pacific that have similar laws. Canada has a blasphemy law in North America, but it is not enforced. Is There Really A Blasphemy Law In Islam? Regarding 'laws' that impose penalties (including the death sentence) for offending Islam or the Prophet Muhammad, there are conflicting interpretations. The main foundations of Islamic law are the Quran and the Sunnah, although, over the years, many schools of Islamic theology have interpreted them differently. Islamic law involves hermeneutical encounters with the text and settings of the Quran. The Quran has a number of allegories, analogies, and ambiguities, according to eminent Islamic scholars, which call for interpretations based on suitable standards of justice, fairness, and values of a decent life. In actuality, the Quran makes no mention of blasphemy. It didn't show up anywhere in the development of Islamic law. The Quran contains numerous instances where unbelievers continued to mock and tease the Prophet. However, there is no clear directive for penalizing those who made fun of him. Rather, the Quran commands Muhammad to leave the penalty for such insulting behaviour and disparaging remarks to God. Additionally, the Prophet should be granted God's mercy and grace, according to the Quran. Those who concur that Islamic traditions have had blasphemy laws since their inception will claim that these laws are founded on the Sunnah (prophet Muhammad's sayings and actions). They cite the case of a Jewish woman who was allegedly murdered for penning provocative poetry critical of the Prophet and Islam. The claim that the Prophet "praised the man" who killed her has no basis in reality. Another account, however, claims that the Jewish woman was actually murdered for sedition for violating the Medina Covenant and not for any profane remarks. You may recall that the Prophet frequently experienced insult, disdain, and denigration for his extreme actions whenever he was in Mecca. It was only logical that the Prophet would face an excessive number of foes in the rapidly developing environment of the establishment of an Islamic state. But he exhibited great patience and stayed unaffected. There are numerous examples of this kind in the Quran itself. The Surah 21:41 reads, “Mocked were (many) apostles before thee; but their scoffers were hemmed in by the thing that they mocked” (Al-Anbiyaa – translation by Yusuf Ali). The Surah 38:4 says, “So, they wonder that a Warner has come to them from among themselves! and the Unbelievers say, “This is a sorcerer telling lies!” (Sad – translation by Yusuf Ali). In spite of such attacks and ridicule, the Quran (Surah 73:10), advises the Prophet to “have patience with what they say and leave them with noble (dignity)” (Al-Muzzammil translation by Yusuf Ali). The Surah 5:13 reads: “But because of their breach of their Covenant We cursed them and made their hearts grow hard: they change the words from their (right) places and forget a good part of the Message that was sent them nor wilt thou cease to find them barring a few ever bent on (new) deceits: but forgive them and overlook (their misdeeds): for Allah loveth those who are kind” (Al-Maida, translation by Yusuf Ali). The Surah 25:63 is rather categorical: “And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility and when the ignorant address them they say “Peace!” (Al-Furqan translation by Yusuf Ali). The most oft-quoted Surah (2: 256) runs like this: “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error; whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things (Al–Baqara translation by Yusuf Ali). Such acts of the Prophet's compassion, humility, and patience during his lifetime cannot be disregarded by the "texts" of Islamic law. There are better methods than demanding death penalties to show love and respect for the Prophet. According to Ziauddin Sardar, an author and expert on Islam, who said that blasphemy laws have no validity in the Quran. Asghar Ali Engineer, claimed that the Prophet was "so spiritual that he would never indulge in seeking revenge for personal insult." He was "a model human being to be followed by others”. He uses the example of a Jewish woman who used to throw trash on the Prophet whenever he passed by her house to mock him. However, the Prophet made no attempt to punish her. The Prophet inquired as to why the woman had not arrived with rubbish one day. The Prophet immediately rushed to see her after learning that she was unwell. After acting inappropriately with such a person, the woman felt ashamed of herself and joined Islam right away. According to Engineer, seeking revenge for an insult "betrays the worst human instincts" rather than being a sign of religiosity. It should be remembered that there was very little like blasphemy legislation throughout the two centuries that followed the life of the Prophet Mohammad. The idea of blasphemy first gained considerable traction during the Abbasid era, around the start of the ninth century, especially in the context of revolt against Islam and the government. It is plausible that the idea took on additional dimensions in the context of establishing the legitimacy of the political authority of the governing regimes. It became abundantly evident that the sole goal of Pakistan's blasphemy law, which was introduced by a military dictator named Zia-ul-Haq, was to legitimize that country's authoritarian government as an "Islamic state." In order to gain a foothold in society through his military dictatorship, Gen. Zia also complied with the objective of Pakistan's orthodox ulama. Since that time, even after the switch to democracy, nothing has changed. In conclusion, Pakistan's blasphemy laws raise serious concerns about both its own commitment to Islam and its compliance with international law. The deep state in Pakistan pays little attention to protecting the rights to freedom of expression, equality before the law, the avoidance of discrimination, and, most importantly, a fair trial. Blasphemy laws have clear effects on the nation's religious and racial minorities and lead to the problem of religious intolerance, fundamentalism, and radical Islam. The question is whether the deep state will permit the political forces and the civil society in the country to revisit the harsh blasphemy laws, in their current form, and repeal or significantly revise all religious offenses in accordance with its obligations under international human rights law. This is true even as Islamabad has come under international pressure to combat terrorism and religious extremism. ----- 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

Decoding Islamic Doctrine of Paradisical Houris

By Nur Ul Islam Sadequey, New Age Islam 28 August 2023 Recently released Bollywood movie ‘72 Hoorain’, although made to satiate rising domestic Islamophobia, has re-exposed the underbelly of Islamic eschatological doctrine where what the modern scholars of Islam have refuted, the classical ones had no qualms in admitting. So, what is it about? Let’s examine the theology of virgin houris in Islam and the milieu in which it developed. -------------------------------------------- Also Read: Are There Houris in the Jannah? -------------------------------------------- The Quranic term hoor or hoor ein has long intrigued Islamic scholars and critics alike for its ambiguity. The classical interpretation is almost unanimous that the term refers to young virgin ladies’ believers will be rewarded in paradise. This view finds basis in around 50 Prophetic traditions (hadiths) that vividly describe these virgins’ varying numbers and physical attributes in a highly sensual manner. While many hadiths show houris are paradisiacal reward meant for martyrs only, there are few that show they are for righteous Muslims and for those who fast during Ramadan or other males who endure any loss for the sake of Allah. However, many modern scholars see the Quranic term hoor far from what is conceived in hadiths. While they differ on exact meaning but nowhere close to virgins and carnal pleasures. A critical study of all such hadiths that talk about Islamic eschatology, life after death, reward and punishment, will lead one to conclude that they are purely didactic, prone to fabrication and contradiction, and majority of them are in contrast with Quranic teachings. ------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Taslima Nasreen, 72 Houris and Wildan and Ghilman ------------------------------------------------------------- It seems the doctrine of virgin houris emerged and evolved in 9th century as one finds no mention of houri hadiths in Muwatta of Imam Malik, first collection of hadith texts written in 8th-century CE. It was a time when Muslims were at war on various fronts and had already established multifaceted contacts with outside world. During the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad around 80 military expeditions took place and less than 20 involved fighting. Nowhere Prophet was heard persuading his followers to fight for doe-eyed and ever willing virgins in Jannah. Quranic Jannah has no sexual gratification described anywhere. It’s for righteous people (Muttaqin) irrespective of gender. It’s a place of everlasting bliss and peace where there will be plenty of food and drinks and everything one wishes for. Gardens, springs, rivers of water, milk, honey, and meat, all sorts of fruits, no death, no resentment or fatigue, nice clothes, ornaments etc are obvious descriptions in Quran. The word hoor occurred four times in Quran. It is usually translated as ‘fair women with large, beautiful eyes. However, there is no evidence to support that the Prophet explained the word hoor or the verses that contain hoor and its intended meaning. The inferences of unsullied maidens and carnal pleasure drawn by the classical commentators are their personal ijtihad (interpretation) and therefore not binding. -------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Where Did These 72 Hooris Come From? -------------------------------------------------- The famous classical theologians and commentators like Tabari (died 923 CE), Ash’ari (died 936), Ghazali (died 1111), Ibn Kathir (died 1373) and Suyuti (died 1505) have acknowledged sensual pleasures in paradise. It seems Tabari repeated same narrative that emerged in 9th century based on hadiths influenced by foreign imports and the posterity followed suit. German Orientalist Christoph Luxenberg in his book ‘The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran: A Contribution to the Decoding of the Language of the Koran’, originally published in German in 2001 argues that the term hoor ein is Syro-Aramaic which was lingua franca of the pre-Islamic Middle East, and it refers to ‘white grapes or raisins’. Ancient Christian hymns in Aramaic suggest the word refers to ‘grapes’ that the departed will enjoy in paradise. Adjective used for hoor in verse 56:26 says, “like the pearls hidden in the shells” and “no man or jinn ever touched them” verse 55:72, gives perfect sense in case of grapes and raisins. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: The Hoor in Paradise and Their Attributes in the Quran and Ahadith in Response to Inquiries Following the Newly Released Movie 72 Hoorain ----------------------------------------------------------------- Likewise, the term Wildaanun Mukhalladoon is Syro-Aramaic expression which means ‘chilled raisin drinks’ and not the ‘immortal young boys’ who will serve the drinks. Thus, the other adjectives “in vessels, pitchers and cup (56:18)” and “when you see them you would think them scattered pearls” (76:19) give sense. According to Luxenberg, the context makes it clear that it is food and drink that will be offered in Jannah. For Moroccan scholar KhalÄ«d Benakrash (and others like Abdul-Karim Alwan Al-Khafaji) the term Hoor Ein has Arabic origin meaning spring of running water. They also argue grammatically that Zawwajnahum does not mean ‘marrying them’ or the object should come without preposition as can be seen in various places where this word occurred for marriage in Quran. They say ‘Wa Zawwajnahum Bi Hoor Ein’ (verse 44:54) suggests ‘the people in Jannah will have the company of running stream’. This description can be found in several places in Quran. Syrian philosopher Mohammad Shahrour (died 2019) says all such verses where Jannah and zauj (spouse) have occurred are for everybody irrespective of gender, and deriving sexual connotation is misreading of Quran. --- Nur Ul Islam Sadequey is an Arabic scholar and researcher based in Abu Dhabi, UAE 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

So-Called Sufi of Ranipur, Pakistan Rapes 9-Year-Old Girl and Leaves Her to Die

By New Age Islam Staff Writer 28 August 2023 Earlier Two Judges of Pakistan Tortured Minor Girls Working as Domestic Help. Main Points: 1. Peer of Ranipur Syed Asad Shah inflicted genital and anal trauma on the girl. 2. He slept after raping her and left her on the ground bleeding and writhing in pain. 3. The girl died of the wounds. 4. He was arrested and has denied the allegation. 5. Earlier judge Khurram Ali and his wife were convicted for torturing their minor domestic help. ------ Sufi of Ranipur Pir Asad Shah Jilani ----- Sexual crimes against minors are not uncommon in the Indian sub-continent. Criminals and sexual perverts commit such crimes in most of the cases. But these crimes mirror the collective mindset of a community when the perpetrators of such crimes are religious and respected persons of the society. A few years ago, an 8-year-old girl of Kathua in Jammu of India was raped brutally by a priest and his aides. Instead of condemning the rapists and demanding exemplary punishment for them, people of the area brought out a rally in his favour. Now a similar incident of the rape of a 9-year-old girl in the Sindh province of Pakistan sends shivers down the spine. A Sufi, Asad Shah Jilani belonging to the family of the Peers of Ranipur has been arrested for raping her in his house and leaving her to die on the floor while he slept on his bed wrapped in a blanket, He inflicted genital and anal trauma on the girl and beat her for apparently resisting. The police sprung into action when the CCTV footage went viral on social media and arrested the Sufi and his wife Syeda Hena Shah. Hena Shah got bail. The victim, Fatima Phuriro was working in his haveli for quite some time and she was tortured regularly by him and his wife. Her parents were his disciples (Mureed) and had handed her over to the sufi as a mark of devotion. Asad Shah's wife Hena Shah found her dead in the morning and woke up her husband. They called Fatima's father saying she had died of stomach pain and threatened him not to tell the police about the incident. Her father buried her silently in the graveyard. But when the CCTV footage went viral, the police came into action and exhumed the body. The body of Fatima was sent for post mortem. The post mortem report revealed the following facts: a) Bluish red mark on the right side of her head. b) Six cm bruise on the upper chest. c) 3 bruises on the lower back. d)40 cm bruise on the left arm. e) Her body was rotting because of lack of treatment of older wounds. They did not provide treatment for her wounds resulting from beating and torture. Asad Shah Jilani has thousands of followers and disciples. Moreover, 4 or 5 members of his family and relatives are members of parliament and assemblies. Therefore, he has political and religious clout in the area. So a section of the people think that he may get bail or even get the case withdrawn by pressurising the parents or by virtue of the rule of compensation under Pakistan's law. Under this law, the culprit pays the heirs of the deceased a big amount of money and the victim's heir or guardian withdraws the case saying in the court "I forgive him in the name of God."Therefore, an innocent victim's killer is saved all in the name of God. Pakistan's powerful people get away with the murder of innocent and economically weak people with the help of this law. The practice of Sufism under which Sufis have thousands or lakhs of disciples helps Sufis like Asad Shah garner votes for his relatives in elections. In return they provide him protection for his crimes. Fatima's mother has alleged that her two other daughters are in his custody illegally. This is not the only incident of brutal torture of a minor domestic help by high profile personalities in Pakistan. Last month, a 12-year-old girl Rizwana was hospitalised in a serious condition. She worked in civil judge Asim Hafeez's house as a domestic help. His wife Sonia Asim used to beat her regularly and would not provide treatment for her wounds and injuries. When the story of her torture came to light, she was hospitalised in Sargodha. She had 15 injuries on her body including her head. She told the police that Sonia would beat her on a daily basis and left her hungry. She would also lock her in a room. She was shifted to Lahore General Hospital and undergoing plastic surgery in the ICU. Sonia Asim was arrested and her bail plea was rejected. Her husband, a civil judge was an accomplice in the crime as he did not prevent his wife from torturing Rizwana and did not provide her treatment. How can a civil judge be so merciless and heartless to allow a helpless and defenceless innocent girl who had been serving them. She was not paid for six months whereas judges in Pakistan get very high salaries apart from perks and facilities. In 2016, another sessions judge Khurram Ali and his wife Maheen Zafar were convicted of torturing a 10-year-old girl Tayyeba. First, they managed to get the cases withdrawn by paying her parents compensation but the chief justice took suo moto action and ordered the police to initiate action. They were sentenced for three years imprisonment but in 2018, the Supreme Court cut the punishment short to one year and they were released. Some banana republic!! The three incidents are related to child torture and rape and the culprits in all the three cases are respected and highly educated persons of the society. This speaks volumes about the moral and ethical bankruptcy of the general Pakistani society. How can a Sufi sexually torture a 9-year-old girl and go to sleep without any remorse leaving the victim bleeding and writhing in pain on the bare floor for the whole night? Was he a sexual beast devoid of any human feeling? Can we take these incidents as only exceptions? Definitely not. According to International Labour Organisation, one in every four households in Pakistan employs a child as a domestic help. In Pakistan, 3.3 million children are child labours. 2.5 crore children are out of school. So, imagine what kind of torture and sexual trauma they might be going through in the houses of feudal lords, judges, engineers and peers like Asad Shah. Their story does not come out because not all the cases of torture and rape go viral. The media of Pakistan ha not discussed the crime of Asad Shah because he has political connections. His cousin Syed Fazal Shah is the Member of Parliament. Political leaders of Sindh give protection such peers for political gains. The poverty and unemployment together with superstition and illiteracy among the masses help these peers exploit them. In Pakistan, multiple marriages are common and clerics like Tarique Masood promote and encourage it. As a result, many families have ten, fifteen twenty children, mostly girls. Since the parents can't afford to feed them, they send them to work as domestic helps in the houses of peers or judges or landlords where they fall prey to the satanic and beastly instincts. They do not have mercy on the innocent children and inflict physical and sexual torture on them, sometimes causing death. The minor children of Pakistan have to undergo the torture and exploitation because Pakistan does not have effective laws to protect children. The legislature of Pakistan should bring laws to protect children like Inda has. It should form organisations to monitor and survey the households where children work. Children should not be allowed to work in the first place. UNICEF should intervene and ensure that no child, particularly girl child becomes a victim of peers, judges, landlords and general people. 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

Musings of Raghupati Sahay 'Firaq' Gorakhpuri

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 28 August 2023 "Main Nahin Maanta Ke Log Waqt Aur Umr Ke Saath Behtar Hote Hain Ya Padh-Likh Jaane Se Insaan Ka Zehan Khulta Hai. Mera Tajurba Kahta Hai Ke Padha-Likha Insaan Har Maamle Mein Zyada Ziddi Hota Hai, Phir Woh Mazhab Ka Maamla Ho Ya Zindgi Se Jude Sawalaat Ka." (I don't agree that humans grow with time and age. Nor do I believe that an 'educated' person has an open mind. I've experienced that an educated person is often more stubborn in all matters, whether religion or the aspects of life). " Pakistani Urdu newspaper Nawa-e-Waqt quoted ' Firaq' Gorakhpuri's aforementioned quote the day he breathed his last on March 3, 1982 in Delhi. His Birth Anniversary is on August 28. In these difficult times, when humans, esp. 'educated' ones have become all the more hardcore and obstinate about all things, Firaq's statement assumes much greater significance. Now so-called educated people in all faiths have become extremely religious, nay fanatic. Scientists associated with the safe and successful landing of Chandrayan-3, urged the nation to pray and they themselves offered Pooja before launching the spacecraft into the space. Is it a sign of rationality and scientific temperament? S Somnath says that our Vedas had all the formulas and techniques for such a complex space mission. All those who call themselves Sanatanis are not lumpen or fringe elements. They're all educated Hindus. The same can be said about the educated people of all faiths. 'Firaq' explained this phenomenon in the Urdu magazine, 20veen Sadi (March 1965): "Jise Hum Taaleem Samajhte Hain Woh Faqat Degrees Batorne Ka Ek Zariya Hai. Aql Tab Aati Hai Jab Insaan Ke Tajurbaat Uski Taleem Se Judte Hain" (What we call education is just a medium to amass degrees. Wisdom comes when experiences gel with education). So very true! 'Firaq' prophetically said in that issue, "Ek Roz Chaand Toh Kya, Uss Se Bhi Aage Nikal Jaayega Insaan. Lekin Zaroori Hai Ke Woh Apne Kirdaar Ko Kis Bulandi Tak Le Jaane Mein Kaamyaab Hota Hai" (One day, humans will go beyond moon. But what's most important is whether he can take his character to those dizzying heights). Man didn't land on moon in 1965. That happened on July 21, 1969. But 'Firaq' was spot-on. "Shayar Hoon, Daawa-E-Payambari Nahin Karta/ Lekin Peshangoi Karne Se Bhi Nahin Darta" (I'm a poet not a Prophet/ Yet, I don't refrain from making prophecies). In these times, when overambitious humans are contemplating to settle on moon and mars, the most pertinent question that confronts us is: Have we learnt to live on earth? What ' Firaq' predicted more than six decades ago is unfolding before us with a clock-like precision. That apart, look at the way, ' Firaq ' used Urdu. It's so simple and not laden with the unintelligible words of Persian, Arabic and archaic Urdu, though ' Firaq' had degrees in both Persian and Urdu. His language is the quintessence of Hindustani, a linguistic symbol of Ganga-Jamni Tahzeeb. By the way, this versatile genius taught English at Allahabad University. He once famously said, "'Firaq’ Ke Tasavuur Ki Zabaan Dushwaar Urdu Hai Lekin Uski Qalam Se Aasaan Zabaan Nikalti Hai" (Though Firaq thinks in difficult Urdu, simple language ensues from his pen). We need a man of Firaq's stature in these pedestrian times living with rank mediocre people and rabid bigots. ---- 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

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Revivalism Of The Eternal Religion Of Hinduism (Sanatan Dharma) Or Successful 'Islamisation' Of Savarkar's Hindutva Ideology That RSS Had Been Working On For A Century? Muzaffarnagar School Incident Where A Woman Teacher Gets A Muslim Student Beaten Up By His Hindu Classmates For Being A "Mohammadan" Mirrors India's Present Day Society

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam 26 August 2023 Main Points: 1. What happened to a poor little Muslim kid in Muzaffarnagar school is brutal, worrisome and an out-and-out dehumanisation of Muslims in India. 2. It shows that the hate has gone deep in our multi-religious society. From this incident, it is not difficult to gauge the mood of the country. 3. One can imagine what the little child has had to go through. This is a clear violation of the children's rights to education in a safe and healthy environment. 4. Every sensible citizen in our country would naturally speak up against this inhuman, anti-national, dastardly and outrightly communal incident. 5. Ideologically, it is clear that 'Hindutvavadis' and their sympathizers -- from politicians, religious leaders, preachers and activists to school teachers -- now in India are harbouring the radicalised Islamic mindset. 6. RSS-inspired Hindutvavadis have studied diligently Shah Waliullah and other traditional Muslim theologians for how dhimmis should be treated in an Islamic State. Now they are practicing more or less the same with Muslim dhimmis in a Hindu State. 7. However, as even top "Secular" leaders of the Congress Party publicly declare India as Hindu State, one cannot merely blame RSS-inspired Hindutvavadis for considering India a Hindu State. 8. Those who still consider India a a Secular State need to get their heads examined by experienced psychiatrists who specialise in treating hallucination. ----- Photo: Principal of Neha Public school in Khubbapur village, under the Mansoorpur police station limits in Muzaffarnagar. ----- This is an out-and-out dehumanisation of the Muslims in India! What has happened in Muzaffarnagar school to a poor little Muslim kid is brutal and far more worrisome than the earlier similar incidents of communal bias and violence in different parts of the country, both recently and in the past decades. It shows that the hate has gone deep in our Sanatan Hindu society. Or to put it from a 'politically correct' perspective, it was already deeply seated in the society which has now been clearly revealed by the mobs emboldened by the politicians and fanatic religious leaders and radical preachers. That a Sanatani school teacher ordered her Hindu students to perpetrate this communal violence against their Muslim classmate is deeply painful and gruesome. From this incident, it is not difficult to gauge the mood of the country -- common masses, teachers, academicians and intellectuals and not just the politicians. One can easily make an assumption in India now that communalism and religious bigotry have deeply spread inside the country, which can be clearly seen from the Muzaffarnagar school incident. Times of India journalist and regular columnist, Sagarika Ghose has rightly termed this incident a sad part of the trying times we live in. "None other than a teacher in a Muzaffarnagar school asking students to beat up a Muslim child in class and watching as kid is slapped. Can anything be more disgraceful. There can be no “Amrit Kaal” with so much hate in the air", she tweeted. Until penning down this piece, many must have seen the painful video from Muzaffarnagar of a school child being made to stand and teacher instructing his non-Muslim classmates to hit him hard because he was a Muslim, while at the same time the teacher was making anti-Muslim statements. More regrettable is that the local police has not yet taken any action and has actually worked out a settlement with the father and school. One can imagine what the little child has had to go through. This is a clear violation of the children's rights to education in a safe and healthy environment. While this writer still hopes that the teacher would be soon prosecuted, and not just dismissed, there's something more serious to do: Action should immediately be taken by the state government against the policemen for failing their duty. Every sensible citizen in our country would naturally speak up against this inhuman, anti-national, dastardly and outrightly communal incident. However, the major reason why I weigh in on this issue, is not just this incident but a bigger cause of concern for the nation. The Radical Islamisation Of 'Hindutva' After the Islamic nations and Arab countries including Saudi Arabia have thrown out their extremist, totalitarian Islamist ideology, it has unfortunately found its shelter in India but not just among the pan-Islamist radical preachers but more so now in their imitators: the 'Hindutvavadis' who have diligently studied traditional Islamic theology for a century, particularly how an Islamic State should treat its dhimmis (the second class citizens who are in its protection). They're not at all imbued in the true spiritual and universal values of Hinduism but rather inspired, in action and ideology, by the radical Islamists and jihadists who are now banned in their own countries. It was the radical Islamism that was at the heart of the terrorism and violent extremism emanating from the Arab and Islamic world. Consequently, the world's top terror groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Taliban sprang up from different Islamic denominations. They condoned the religious legitimacy, which was already there in the redundant and outdated Islamic theology, to dehumanise non-Muslims and fellow Muslims alike for not subscribing to their ideology of creating an 'Islamic state'. Ideologically, it is clear that 'Hindutvavadis' and their sympathizers -- from politicians, religious leaders, preachers and activists to school teachers -- now in India are harbouring the radical Islamist mindset. They have borrowed the Takfiri template of Islamism to distinguish between ‘true’ Indians and supposedly ‘fake’ Indians or true nationalists and anti-nationals through the prism of biased and bogus 'religiosity'. If this is the road we Indians today really want to go, then doom and destruction at the societal, communal and internal security levels are our fate for sure, in the same way as Islamism has destroyed Pakistan. ------ A Regular Columnist with, Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is an Indo-Islamic scholar and English-Arabic-Urdu writer. He has graduated from a leading Sufi Islamic seminary in India, and acquired Diploma in Qur'anic sciences and a Certificate in Uloom ul Hadith from Al-Azhar Institute of Islamic Studies. He has also participated in the 3-year “Madrasa Discourses” program initiated by the University of Notre Dame, USA. 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

Now Schools And Classrooms Are Places For Caste, Class And Creed!

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 26 August 2023 The teacher got a Muslim kid slapped by other students in a viral video from Muzaffarnagar's Neha Public School. NCPCR has appealed every one to not share the video. A school teacher in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar made students slap a Muslim kid inside the classroom. A video of the incident which took place in Khabbarpur village has gone viral on social media and the police have begun a probe. ------ "I have declared Jitne Bhi Mohammedan Bachhe Hain..." the teacher was caught saying on camera while she called the rest of the class one after the other to take turns hitting the Muslim student. Shocking, to say the least! When teachers stoop to discrimination and this type of lowly behaviour, what will their students learn? We're going ga-ga over moon landing. But we can't even live on earth in a civilized manner. This incident was (fortunately) videoed. So, it became viral on social media. But innumerable such incidents have been happening for years (esp. in the last decade) and no one reported them or made video clips. When kids, regardless of their faiths, are forced to participate in such discriminatory acts, they're bound to grow into fanatic adults. They're being indoctrinated in that way by their teachers who are outright criminals. Will that traumatised Muslim child ever forget this horrendous incident? Will it not affect his psyche? Will he be able to lead a normal life? Do we have answers to these behavioural and developmental questions? When education gets tainted with religion and teachers start discriminating against specific groups of students, we must ask ourselves where have we gone wrong. A couple of years ago in Rajasthan, a teacher beat a Dalit student so badly that he died. What was his crime? The poor kid drank water from the pitcher that was meant for the children of the upper class! Now schools and classrooms are places for caste, class, creed and all that excreta. This is just unthinkable and so utterly regressive. The saffronised CM of UP is silent. So is that bearded megalomaniac at the helm. This calculated silence encourages all these lumpen elements to thrive and survive. This is indeed a matter of grave concern. I'm terribly anguished and ashamed. ---- 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

How Literature, Writers, and the Arts Can Help Fight Extremism

By Kaniz Fatma, New Age Islam 26 August 2023 Writers and Poets Must Emulate Sufism, Promoting Peace and Harmony Main Points: 1. Extremism is increasing globally. Preventing extremism is crucial, as we are surrounded by deadly scientific weapons and have a responsibility to contribute to its prevention. 2. promotes peace theology and de-radicalization. 3. Extremism involves denying others' opinions, blindly imposing beliefs, abandoning human decency, coercive exploitation, and hindering human progress. 4. Terrorism and extremism require authors and artists to promote human values through literature, TV, radio, and discussions, preventing conflicts and promoting diversity. ----- Everyone is aware that extremism is increasing in the modern world, despite the fact that it ought to have decreased along with advances in science and culture. Today, conferences and seminars are held all over the world to combat extremism, which is quite welcome. Books are created, and publications like newspapers and journals publish articles and columns. I believe that is the best place to spread peace theology and actively work towards de-radicalizing people. It seems as though the entire human race has come to the realisation that preventing extremism has never been more important than it is right now. Today, everyone is aware that they are surrounded by deadly and devastating scientific weapons and that merely a single spark from any direction has the power to wipe out all of humanity. Therefore, each of us has a responsibility to play a part in preventing it in light of these grave concerns. More people need to be aware of the harm that extremism—individually or as a group, locally or regionally, internationally or nationally—causes to humanity. In order to live peaceably in this world and achieve salvation in the hereafter, man should, therefore, adopt a moderate attitude towards settling his worries, behave with compassion and forgiveness, and give up the road of extremism. We shall first understand what extremism is. How does this upset the global system? How does extremism affect human society? What ill effects does extremism have on society? After that, we will talk about how literature and writers can combat extremism. Extremism involves adopting extreme behaviour or opinions, often used in political or religious contexts, denying others' opinions while maintaining one's own, blindly imposing beliefs, abandoning human decency, coercive exploitation, hindering human progress, and negatively impacting others' finances and quality of life. It is responsible for conflicts, wars, killings, and massacres worldwide, including the murder of Hazrat Adam's son Haabeel, the Karbala incident, the Crusades, and various battles in the 21st century. The destructive repercussions of extremism are evident worldwide. Who would contest the fact that extremism fosters international and intra-national conflict, which inevitably leads to the extinction of mankind, noblesse oblige, and civilizations as we know them? Which region of the world has become peaceful and is characterised by a strong sense of community and fraternity? This extremism is pervasive. The adherents of all religions have adopted extremist behaviour. The dominant people are about to choke the other. Every strong group is working to eliminate the weak ones. Every strong country is determined to destroy the others. It seems as though fanaticism has torn apart the bond of humanity and capsized the raft of civilization. All of this was brought on by extremism. Until the human race upholds the golden rule of "live and let live," the dream of making the world a cradle of peace and a centre of civilisation cannot come true. Let's now discuss literature, writers, and the arts and how they might contribute to the fight against extremism. Writers and artists are very kind and sensitive people. In light of the shifting circumstances, they not only recognise them but also light the candles of love and affection with fresh perspectives. They join the group of heartbroken people. To turn people away from extremism, they promote moderation. The importance of literature and writers to the struggle against extremism can be summed up by the adage "feet of the people of the pen who create world literature remain on their earth while the fingers and pen are touching the heights and expanses of the sky." Literature and writers are essential to transforming extremism into moderation and building a peaceful, harmonious society. The writers shed light on the perilous paths of human existence with the help of their pens. Literature is not only a label for imaginative frivolity; rather, it’s true use is to advance humanity and transform society. The appeal of literature and the creative arts is actually the establishment of ethical principles, spiritual tranquillity, beauty, and a harmonious society. The most significant and influential role in fostering a world that is peaceful, balanced, civilised, and welfare-oriented belongs to authors and poets. The lifeblood of society is its writers and poets. A writer, poet, or artist is like a flame that burns itself out while also illuminating others. The literature that writers and artists create with their talent and passion is a source of love, peace, and brotherhood. Hatreds end and love deepens with the aid of literature and the arts. Through literature, society is installed with high moral standards. Literature teaches good manners, modesty, and a noble attitude to people. Writers consider humans to be a component of one another. Today, in the context of the entire world, acts of terrorism and extremism take place on a daily basis somewhere. In order to overcome these difficulties, authors and artists must completely exercise their responsibilities. It is the responsibility of writers and artists to emphasise human values and inform the public about the necessity of spreading humanity and human values through fiction, essays, and lyrical works as well as through TV and radio productions and discussions. Instead of promoting the agenda of hatred on television focusing on one-sided extremism, writers and poets must provide intellectual, moral, character-building, training, and resistance literature against oppressors. Give this work the proper space and importance in order to understand social and political consciousness, prevent class conflicts and extremism, and promote religious, regional, ethnic, and linguistic unity in diversity. What type of literature would there be if there was no literature that connected the bitter and sweet tastes of the past and present with human life and ambitions for the future? Our eyes are filled with blood today as we hear the tragic tales of the thousands of families who worldwide are victims of terrorism and extremism. Is it not the duty of today's writers and artists to lessen the pain of these defenceless people? Given that we are currently trapped in a vortex of extremism, the clouds of dreadful terrorism are also casting a terrible shadow over the entire planet. In this situation, wonderful literature and beautiful art can disseminate the colour of beauty and foster peaceful community development. With the help of poets and authors like Hazrat Khawaja Mu'in al-Din Chishti, Baba Farid, Baba Kuhi of Shiraz, Baba Shemin, Sheikh Saadi, Hazrat Amir Khusrau, Hafiz Shirazi, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai and Bulleh Shah etc, humanity was filled with pearls plucked from the sea of mysticism and Sufism, and for centuries, human society served as a haven for peace and harmony. Writers and poets of today must relight the same lamp. ---- 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