Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Beyond Boundaries: Rethinking the Civilisational Relationship between Islam and Christianity and its Impact on Western Muslims

By Adis Duderija, New Age Islam 31 January 2024 Introduction For over a millennium, the prevailing historical conception in the West has viewed Islam and Christianity as radically separate and opposing civilizational entities. However, emerging scholarship invites us to ponder this framing anew, exploring whether alternative perspectives may better reflect the nuanced realities of their intertwined development. In his seminal work "The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization", a book that I use in my course on Islam and Muslim Communities in the West at Griffith University, Richard Bulliet, among other things, considers potential obstacles hindering acceptance of Islam and Christianity as interlinked within a shared cultural matrix, then subjects each assertion to critical scrutiny. Drawing from Bulliet's incisive analysis, this essay aims to build upon his argument by delving examining these objections and reconsidering their validity and impact on western Muslims’ identity. Bulliet argues that there are several obstacles that appear to hinder the viability of his case for Islamo-Christian civilisation including: 1. Chronological Discrepancy: The idea that Muhammad lived approximately 700 years after Christ, creating a significant time gap between the two historical figures and their respective civilizations. 2. Inveterate Hostility: Throughout history, Islam has repeatedly launched attacks on Christendom, leading to an enduring sense of enmity and hostility between the two religious groups. 3. Christian Experience: Christians who have encountered Islam over the centuries have consistently perceived it as an enemy and an alien power, further hindering the establishment of a connection between the two civilizations. 4. Scriptural Error: The Quran and the Bible share numerous stories, but the Quranic versions are often seen as inaccurate or distorted in comparison to the biblical narratives. 5. Denial of Divine Truth: While Islam recognizes Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad as Messengers of God, it falls short of affirming the divinity of Christ, which is a fundamental belief in Christianity. 6. Ingratitude: Islam has not acknowledged its indebtedness to Judaism and Christianity in terms of doctrine, nor has it recognized them as its parent religions (2004, p.13). These obstacles contribute to the perceived difficulty in linking the histories of Muslim and Christian civilizations, as they involve significant religious, historical, and doctrinal differences that have shaped the relationship between the two throughout history. In conversation with Bulliet we critically evaluate these arguments as follows. Chronological Discrepancy The notion of Muhammad appearing some seven centuries after Jesus is undeniably accurate. We know, however, that ancient Near Eastern thinkers communicated across vast distances through expanding trade networks since antiquity. Scholars also recognize striking similarities between Islamic, Jewish and Christian scriptural stories, implying shared oral traditions circulating the Levant continuously. Rather than separation, the continuum of Near Eastern cultural commingling offers a more organic lens. A flexible periodization sensitive to trans-regional interactions better captures civilizations' complexity. Inveterate Hostility Conflict undeniably occurred yet there was more than just conflict. Early Islamic rule over Christian realms like Syria proved tolerable to subjects, as Caliphates later safeguarded European Christendom from Mongol hordes. In Iberia, relatively harmonious co-existence lasted centuries as Muslims, Christians and Jews jointly advanced philosophy. Even Crusades invoked to question Islam's European belonging neglect there was also conflict between different types of Christianity during this time too. While tension emerged, relations oscillated between cooperation and conflict like any neighbours, denying a natural antipathy thesis. Recasting disputes as intra-civilizational rather than religious (Islam vs. Christianity) has the potential to reconcile Islam's European roots with geopolitical vicissitudes. Christianity-Islam Othering Experience Certainly medieval Christendom framed Islam as a threatening 'other' and vice versa . However, just as European attitudes toward Jews transformed from conflict to inclusion, recognizing shared destinies reorients perceptions. Early Christian chroniclers depicted foreign peoples like Huns or Vikings similarly yet today none question their place within Europe. Even famed Crusader accounts describe “Saracen” piety and valour, complicating alien imageries. Today, the vast majority of western Muslims peacefully live and contribute to western liberal democracies. Scriptural Inaccuracies While certain Quranic narratives differ from their biblical versions, comparative studies find most respond to contexts of seventh century Arabia, aiming not to replace but build upon earlier Abrahamic traditions. In any case, holy books represent singular interpretations among a diversity. Even within Christianity, the Ethiopic Bible includes books absent from others. More significantly, no religion holds a monopoly over historical veracity – all modern scholarship recognizes scriptures involve selective retellings reflecting diverse communities. Rather than error, the Quran's adaptations portray an independent yet genetically linked voice within a complex cultural exchange. An organic relationship transcends artificial impositions of doctrinal conformity. Denial of Christ's Divinity Undoubtedly Islam diverges from mainstream forms Christianity in defining Christ's nature (but not necessarily crucifixion) yet denying their broader interconnectedness on these grounds disregards how beliefs evolve dialogically. Just as Christianity's doctrines emerged through longstanding inner theological debates and external influences, so too did Islam - yet both refer to shared wellsprings in their formulation of monotheism. Even differences denote relatedness, as siblings diverge while recognising a common ancestry. Today's diverse modern attitudes among Christians and rejection of dogma affirm doctrinal pluralism need not preclude cultural citizenship. An inclusive civilizational frame accepts this diversity while stressing interwoven fates and mutual formative impact over rigid demarcations. Ingratitude towards Parent Faiths The concept of Islam rejecting parent faith status towards Judaism and Christianity likewise imposes anachronistic categories ignoring how identities develop organically. Islam emerged not to displace earlier traditions but carve an independent yet recognizably kindred community, as seen in its preservation of biblical figures. Even today, religiosity encompasses personal belief amid wider belonging to indefinable yet deeply meaningful collectivities. Rather than being viewed as ingratitude, Islam’s independent teachings signalled an ethnic and national awakening within Late Antiquity’s religious marketplace, articulating new shared symbolic markers of a burgeoning sociopolitical order. Implications for Western Muslims The arguments presented by Bulliet can strengthen Western Muslim identity by challenging the traditional narratives that have positioned Islam and Christianity as inherently opposed to each other. By addressing the chronological discrepancy, inveterate hostility, Christian experience, scriptural error, denial of divine truth, and ingratitude arguments, Western Muslims can emphasize the historical interconnectedness, shared cultural heritage, and the potential for dialogue and coexistence between Islamic and Christian civilizations. This reframing allows Western Muslims to foster a sense of belonging within the Western context and promote a more inclusive understanding of their religious and cultural identity. By critically evaluating these arguments, Western Muslims can counter the perception of enmity and hostility, highlight the periods of cooperation and mutual influence, and challenge the notion of Islam as an alien power. They can also emphasize the contextual nature of religious texts, the diversity of interpretations, and the evolving beliefs and theological debates within Islam and Christianity. This inclusive approach acknowledges the shared roots and interconnectedness between the two religions while recognizing the distinctiveness and independent contributions of each, ultimately strengthening the Western Muslim identity within the broader Western context. Conclusion In conclusion, Bulliet by re-examining the ostensible obstacles to the idea of a Islamo-Christian Civilisation, helps us gain insights into the contingencies and complexities underlying all civilizational phenomena. Rather than division, the evidence demonstrates continual interaction and influence between Islamic and Christian societies across many centuries, fluctuating relations grounded not just in opposition but a shared matrix of cultural formation. Reconceptualizing their relationship as intra-civilizational better reflects this intricate, dynamic symbiosis between faith communities that together shaped Western heritage. An inclusive civilizational frame counters counterproductive Othering while cultivating constructive shared stewardship over history. By adopting this inclusive approach, Western Muslims can recognize the shared origins and interwoven nature of Islam and Christianity, while also appreciating the unique characteristics and independent contributions of each religion. This perspective contributes to the strengthening of Western Muslim identity within the wider Western context, fostering a sense of belonging and understanding that embraces both commonalities and differences between the two faiths. ---- A decades old patron of New Age Islam, Dr Adis Duderija is a Senior Lecturer in the Study of Islam and Society, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science; Senior Fellow Centre for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue, Griffith University | Nathan | Queensland | Australia. His forthcoming books are ( co-edited)- Shame, Modesty, and Honor in Islam and Interfaith Engagement Beyond the Divide (Springer) URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Muslim World-Wide Population Explosion - A Myth

By Dr. M.I.H. Farooqi, New Age Islam 31 January 2024 With the present population of around 1.8 billion (est. 2023), Muslims constitutes about 25% of world's population. There are some reports by different international agencies (2011) that by 2050 Muslims will outnumber Christians in the World. Muslims are expected to grow twice as fast as the overall global population. It is also claimed that this growth of Muslim population will create many problems in the Islamic World including law and order as well as the break on the efforts for economic prosperity. But recent surveys conducted by Agencies like World Bank, United Nations Population Fund) and other International Agencies give a different picture. These surveys show that rise of Muslim population is not as fast and as dramatic as it is projected, sometimes with bad intentions. What comes out from these surveys is that the trend of fast growth of Muslims population around the world has been checked drastically during the last three decades. Birth rate per woman has fallen sharply among Muslim communities and, therefore, their population is not increasing as speedily as some people wrongly believe. This is largely due to the fact that literacy in Muslim world has increased and economy of many countries has improved. Greater literacy rate is directly linked with the fall of growth of population because it is the main factor for maintaining Fertility Rate to a reasonable limit. Successful efforts for economic prosperity of common man (eradication of poverty), healthcare awareness, particularly for women (mother) and children, emancipation (empowerment) of women, are the other major causes for the fall of the birth rate in Muslim societies throughout the world. As far as birth rate by per woman in Islamic World is concerned, barring few poor countries of Central Africa, most Muslim countries have shown drastic drop-in birth rates per woman from 5 to 8 births in 1960 to 1.3 to 4 births in 2023. For instant UAE birth rate dropped from 6.97 in (1960), 5.75 in (1980), 3.92 in (1995), 1.82 in (215) to 1.4 in 2023. Likewise for Saudi Arabia birth rate was 7.2 for 1960 which declined to 2.7 in 2015 and 2.4 in 2023, a little more than the Replacement Level of 2.1. Replacement level fertility rate of2.1 children per woman is the level of fertility at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next in the world in genera and developed countries in particular. Some Other Steep Decline Records Are as Follows: Bangladesh 6.62(1960), 6.63 (1980), 4.06(1995), 2.22(2015) and 1.9 in (2023) Bahrain 6.97(1960), 5.23(1980), 3.40(1995), 2.12 (2015), and 1.8 in (2023) Brunei 6.89(1960), 4.45 (1980), 3.08(1995), 1.90(2015) and 1.7 in (2023) Indonesia 5.67(1960), 4.73(1980), 2.90(1995), 2.45(2015) and 2.1 in (2023) Iran 6.91(1960), 6.28(1980), 3.95(1995), 1.75(2015) and 1.7 in (2023) Kuwait 7.20(1960), 5.60 (1980), 2.55(1995), 2.05(2015) and 2.1 in (2023) Malaysia 6.38(1960), 4.20(1980), 3.44(1995), 2.11(2015) and 1.8 in (2023) Qatar 6.97 (1960), 6.10(1980), 3.74(1995), 2.00(2015) and 1.8 in (2023) Turkey 6.50(1960), 4.69(1980), 2.90(1995), 2.12(2015) and 1.9 in (2023) Detailed Information Regarding Birth Rate in Islamic World Is as Follows: From 1.3 to 2.1replacement level (2023): 16 Countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina (1.3),U.A.E. (1.4), Albania (1.4), Iran (1.7), Brunei (1.7), Maldives (1.7), Azerbaijan (1.7), Qatar (1.8), Malaysia (1.8), Bahrain (1.8), Turkey (1.9) and Bangladesh (1.9), Tunisia (2.0), Lebanon (2.1), Kuwait (2.1), Indonesia (2.1). From 2.2 to 2.9 births rate (2023):12 countries: Western Sahara (2.2), Morocco (2.3), Saudi Arabia (2.4), Libya (2.4), Oman (2.5), Turkmenistan (2.6), Syria (2.7), Jordan (2.7), Djibouti (2.7), Algeria (2.8), Egypt (2.8), Uzbekistan (2.8) and Kyrgyzstan, (2.9). (These countries may reach the desired level within few years) From 3 to 3.9 births per woman (2023),9 countries: Kazakhstan (3.0), Tajikistan (3.1), Pakistan (3.3), Palestine (3.4) Iraq (3.4), Yemen (3.6), Sierra Leone (3.8), Guinea-Bissau (3.8), and Comoros (3.8). From 4 to 4.9 birth rate (2023):7 countries: Guinea (4.2), Sudan (4.3), Senegal (4.3), Mauritania (4.3), Afghanistan (4.4), Gambia, (4.5), Burkina Faso (4.6) From 5 to 5.9 birth rate (2023): Nigeria (5.1) and Mali (5.8) From 6 to 6.9 birth rate(2023): Somalia (6.1) and Chad (6.1) (Wikipedia) ( indicator/SP.DYN.TFRT.IN) (United Nations Population Fund) Note: World Bank Data is slightly different as the figures of 2022 There is a strong possibility that with the increase in education standard, this declining trend will continue in the Muslim world and the coming decade will see the average replacement level reach to the desired limit of 2.1 or less. All speculations about Muslim population "EXPLOSION" theory would fall and proved to be absolutely false. A report in New York Times (Jan, 27, 2011) under the heading " Forecast Sees Muslim Population Levelling", by Laurie Goodstein states that the growth of Muslim population " will level off with more Muslim women getting educations and jobs, people migrating to cities, and living standards improving". He adds "the birthrate in majority-Muslim countries will come to more closely resemble the pattern in other nations". In his opinion, "Predictions that Europe will become a majority-Muslim "Eurabia" are unfounded". The fact is that Fertility rate of many rich and educationally sounds Muslim countries like Iran, Malaysia, Turkey, and UAE etic already resemble that of many European countries. But poor and educationally backward African Muslim countries like Niger and Nigeria (Christian, 49%) have still high rate of birth as stated above. Disputing the report that world population will reach to 10.1 billion in 2100, Indian economist Sanjeev Sanyal claims that birth rates worldwide will fall below replacement rates in the 2020s. According to his projections, population growth will be only sustained till the 2040s by rising longevity, but will peak below 9 billion by 2050. (Wikipedia) India with its large Muslim Minority has also success story for checking the population growth. Rema Nagarajan also reports that that India has diffused the population bomb and done it without a draconian one-child policy or coercive contraception. (Times of India, Nov. 29, 2021). One may rightly hope that with philosophy of DEVELOPMENT TO ALL, the benefit of economic prosperity and education in Muslim Societies will reach to all and no section will remain abandoned. Hopefully the coming decade will see all round development in Islamic World and the population growth of Muslim Countries checked to the level desired i.e. 2.1. It is also important to note that unnecessarily fall of birth rate may not be a good proposition either. China is facing a national emergency in recent past because of very low rate of births. Now they’re working age population is shrinking and people fear serious implications. Some European countries are also facing the same serious situation. This is a matter a matter for global concern too. Any projection that World Wide Muslim Population Growth would be like an EXPLOSION and make Europe as “Eurabia" is FALSE and a MYTH ------ Dr. M.I.H. Farooqi (Dr. Mohammed Iqtedar Husain Farooqi) Is An Eminent Scientist Who Has Done Commendable Researches On Plant Products Of Commercial And Medicinal Value. He Retired As A Deputy Director (Scientist F ), National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, A Premier Institute Of India Dealing In Plant Sciences. 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

Discriminatory Divinity, Schismatic Spirituality

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 31 January 2024 The Madras high court on Tuesday (January 30) directed the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department to install boards in all Hindu temples stating non-Hindus were not permitted beyond the kodimaram (flagpole) area in the respective shrines and said Hindus also have fundamental right to profess and practise their religion. Now courts have taken it upon themselves to divide the society! On the advanced forum of NAI, a couple of readers recently opined that it's time for bidding adieu to all man-made religions. See the debilitating impact of religion on humans that even judges, supposed to be 'saner' individuals, are getting affected and influenced by this bane of mankind. Now, will the temple authority ask people, visiting the said temple, whether they're Hindus or non-Hindus? What rubbish! It seems, soon people will have to emblazon their respective faiths on their foreheads or chests to find entry in a shrine! We've seen churches for whites and coloured people, for Protestants and Catholics, mosques for Ahmadiyyas, Shias, Sunnis, Bohras (a Shia sub-sect), temples for Dalits and upper class, Gurudwaras for Dalit Sikhs and High-class Sikhs and so on. If at all, there's a Supreme Power, is it not amused by the stupidity of the humans that it created? To quote Abdul Hameed Adam, "Takhleeq-E-Kaainaat Ke Dilchasp Jurm Par/ Hansta Toh Hoga Aap Bhi Yazdaan Kabhi-Kabhi" (The Creator also laughs at the creation of its own world). They say, god has no religion. If at all this entity exists, it certainly has no religion. All religions are human constructs. We concocted them. Agreed, most of the humans are still not so evolved as to do away with the very idea of god. Only a very few enlightened ones can live sans an imaginary god. But even if you believe in a super power, at least try to understand that NO religion, prophets, godmen, godwomen, Babas, swamis, scriptures, rituals and all that utter garbage can ever help you realize that super consciousness, called god-realization. Why do humans require a truckload of spurious 'spiritual' agents to reach god? Demolish all shrines and their deities if they cannot respect humans, the supreme manifestation of godhood on earth. Islam believes that Lucifer or Satan was asked to bow before Adam and Eve. Satan refused. Though it's a fairy tale, it's a metaphor for the power of humans. If a temple or mosque cannot treat humans as humans, demolish it. We don't want discriminatory divinity and schismatic spirituality. ---- 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

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Should the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation Be Dissolved as It Has Lost Its Raison D'etre

By New Age Islam Staff Writer 30 January 2024 The OIC Was Formed for The Cause of Palestine Main Points: 1. The OIC has done virtually nothing for the solution of the Israel-Palestine problem. 2. It has not been able to restrain Israel against Gaza and West Bank. 3. Its members are 57 Islamic countries including Palestine. 4. It has not been able to stop genocide of Palestinians by Israel. 5. It has only condemned Israel's bombardment of Gaza. 6. In fact some of its member countries have established diplomatic and trade relations with Israel. ----- The interim, judgment of the International Court of Justice has ordered Israel to stop killing common Palestinians, destroying structures and infrastructure and preventing medical and essential supplies like food, water, electricity and fuel from reaching them. The Court also told Israel not to disrupt the access of medical facilities to pregnant women who are about 15 per cent of the women population. Many women bleed to death and many new born babies have died due to lack of medical care. More than 24000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel's bombardment and about 85 per cent of the buildings have been destroyed. The interim ruling of the ICJ suggests that it believes that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. More than ten thousand of those killed are children. Thousands of children from 7 to 10 are in Israel's prison and are undergoing torture. Despite all this, the Arab and Islamic countries have been watching all the aggression helplessly. These countries have only made statements of condemnation against Israel's genocide and have humbly requested Netanyahu to stop attacks. The most disappointing role was played by the Organisation of Islamic Co-Operation (OIC) that comprises 57 Islamic countries including some powerful countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Libya, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Syria, Indonesia and Malaysia. Pakistan is a nuclear power. The irony of the OIC is that it declares its raison d'etre to be the cause of Palestine. It was formed in 1969 with the lofty objective of preventing the aggression of Israel, preventing the illegal settlements of Jews in West Bank and work towards the freedom of Palestine. Let's see what the organisation declares as its objectives on its website: "The cause of Palestine and Al-Quds was the raison d’etre for the establishment of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in 1969. The Department of Palestine and Al-Quds Affairs (DPQ) was established as a major department at the General Secretariat. It is headed by an Assistant Secretary-General in accordance with Article 18 of the OIC Charter “One post of Assistant Secretary General shall be devoted to the cause of Al-Quds Al-Sharif and Palestine with the understanding that the State of Palestine shall designate its candidate”. The OIC Declares Its Mission as Follows: "Enabling the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights, including their right to return, self-determination, and establish the independent and sovereign state of Palestine on the 1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, preserving its Arab identity and preserving its holy places, and working to end the occupation of the Palestinian and Arab territories occupied since 1967, including the city of Al-Quds and the other occupied Arab territories." The OIC claims that it has taken up the following tasks: 1. Following up the implementation of Resolutions, recommendations and plans related to the affairs of Palestine and Al-Quds, issued by Islamic summit, Council of Foreign Ministers and sectoral meetings. 2. Preparing political, economic, social, cultural and media reports to support the struggle of the Palestinian people, helping them to regain their legitimate rights, and circulating such reports to Member States and the relevant OIC organs. 3. Coordinating efforts, positions and policies towards Al-Quds as a central issue, following up on the implementation of OIC resolutions on monitoring and confronting Israeli violations and Judaization policies, implementing the strategic plan for the development of Al-Quds, activating twinning agreements with it, and contributing to preserving its Arab identity and preserving its holy places. 4. Preparing the appropriate media line to introduce the Palestinian cause and expose the Israeli violations of the sanctity of the holy places, and coordinating media activity with the specialized organs. 5. Monitoring all forms of activities of the Israeli occupation, especially the policies of colonial settlement, Judaization, and forced displacement, and proposing the necessary measures to confront this. 6. Following -up all activities at the UN and other international fora pertaining to the issue of Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif in all aspects and coordinate the role of the Islamic group through the OIC offices. 7. Representing the OIC General Secretariat in conferences, seminars, meetings and other events related to Palestine and Al-Quds affairs. 8. Following-up the implementation of the OIC resolutions regarding the Islamic Office for the Boycott of Israel, and monitoring the Israeli occupation policies related to colonial settlement, the apartheid wall, and the daily attacks and violations in the occupied Palestinian territory." To achieve its self-designated tasks, the OIC has formed its administrative units with specific goals. These are: Administrative Units: • The Islamic Office for the Boycott of Israel: It was established under Resolution No. 15/12-P, issued by the 12th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in 1981. It seeks to achieve the efforts of the General Secretariat in implementing the resolutions on boycotting Israel, and monitor the Israeli occupation policies related to colonial settlement, the apartheid wall, and the daily attacks and violations in the occupied Palestinian territory. • The OIC Representative Office in Palestine: This office was established by Resolution No. 42/40-P issued by the 42nd CFM session in 2015. It works to promote the cooperation, coordination and consultation with the State of Palestine, based on OIC objectives, principles and resolutions, contribute to strengthening its role towards supporting the rights of the Palestinian people, building their national institutions, meeting their needs, strengthening their steadfastness, and preserving their sanctities. * Division for Palestine and the occupied Arab territories: This division follows up four sub-dossiers, namely ministerial meetings, the peace process, relations with international organizations, as well as the issue of refugees and UNRWA. * Division for Al-Quds Affairs: This division follows up four sub-dossiers, namely the strategic plan for the development of Al-Quds, the Israeli violations in the city, and twinning with Al-Quds, as well as following up on the work of the Al-Quds Committee. Despite the above-mentioned objectives and goals and having committees, division and offices with specific objectives and tasks, the OIC, the virtual paper tiger, has disappointed the Palestinians and the Muslim world with its inaction, insensitivity and cowardice. In fact, it has violated its own objectives and principles. Inspite of boycotting Israel and imposing sanctions, some powerful OIC member countries have established diplomatic and trade relations with Israel. While Israel is blocking the supply of fuel, food and medicine to the Palestinians, some prominent OIC members have beefed up trade with Israel during this ongoing war. They have facilitated the supply of food stuff to Israel through alternate sea and land routes. Saudi Arabia was going ahead to establish diplomatic relations with Israel before 7 October. Instead of taking collective economic and diplomatic measures against Israel to save Palestinians from daily bombardment and genocide, the OIC was making statements on Kashmir and Ram Temple which was out of its declared lofty 'Raison D'etre' to distract the attention of the world from its failure to live up to its 'Raison D'etre'. On November the OIC and the Arab League had held a joint meeting in Riyadh to chalk out its policy and plan of action over Israel-Hamas war but it ended up only making statements of condemnation against Israel's attacks on civilian population and making requests to Netanyahu to kindly not kill more Palestinians. It did not pass any resolution to boycott Israel or to make collective action to prevent Israel's aggression against the Palestinians. Palestine is also the member of Arab League but it also disappointed Palestine. In this situation, the OIC has lost its legitimacy to exist as its fundamental objective was to fight for the cause of Palestine and not to fight for Kashmir or Ram Temple. Therefore, the already defunct OIC should be dissolved as some European and African countries are doing much more than these member countries of the OIC. 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

Revisiting The Conspiracy Behind the Assassination of M K Gandhi

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 29 January 2024 Every year on January 30, M K Gandhi's martyrdom is remembered across the globe with a sense of universal reverence. Though a Hindu fanatic and independent India's first terrorist's bullets truncated the life of a 78-yr-old weak individual, the voice of Truth and Non-violence hasn't lost its relevance. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi ------ In fact, Gandhian non-violence has become a universal philosophy to be followed by all sane people. Way back in 1960, the English editor of The Statesman, Calcutta, wrote an essay on Gandhi and analysed the psyche of all those people who were involved in Gandhi's assassination. By the way, The Statesman had a British editor till 1967. I cannot recall the name of the editor who wrote on Gandhi's killers and concluded that all those who conspired to kill Gandhi were actually very average individuals with a pretty low IQ, barring V D Savarkar, who had no understanding of the loftiness of Gandhian non-violence and greatness of Gandhi as an individual. They killed Gandhi to give a modicum of 'fame' to their own wretched existence. They all had a common grievance: Gandhi's perceived appeasement of Muslims. Remember, lowly humans are always violent by nature and they're vindictive. The individuals who killed Gandhi were so casual that they had no knowledge of the gravity and enormity of their heinous crime. N D Apte, who was hanged with Godse, was with his young girlfriend at a lodge in Bombay just after three days of assassinating the Father of Nation! Nathuram Godse was a sissy who killed to prove that he was man enough to kill someone! Apart from vague political and ideological reasons, there were powerful psychological reasons and angles to it. Clen Feter of The Spectator, London opined that it was a group of sexually confused, rather deranged, individuals for whom killing such a huge personality was a sign and symbol of masculinity. This cannot be totally pooh-poohed. Fraser and Knott observed in their book, 'Psychology of Sexually Abused Men' (1970), that the killers of famous men have often been sexually befuddled humans, whether it was James Earl Ray who killed Dr Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968 at Memphis or Nathuram Godse. James Earl Ray was sexually abused by his two uncles. Savarkar was sodomised by two Muslim warders at Cellular Jail in Andaman. He himself mentioned this and that was the reason he was full of hatred for Muslims. Anand Ramayya's documentary 'Who killed Gandhi' (2013) categorically mentions this fact. Nathuram Godse and N D Apte were sexually exploited by a (Hindu) leader. Sexploitation of humans, esp. of males, leads to seething anger and sudden violent behaviour. The man who killed John Lennon in 1980, was sexually obsessed with the legendary songwriter. Madanlal Pahwa, one of the conspirators, brutally raped and killed 2 Muslim women in the mayhem of Partition. All those wastrels had no lofty ideological basis. They were united for their common antipathy for Muslims and also to de-stigmatise themselves of their nagging sexual selves. In fact, Gandhi's assassination was modern India's earliest attempt to demoralise Muslims. Those fools who try to find relevance in this dastardly act should realise that the greatness of Gandhi cannot be dwarfed by fanatic criminals with no proper and particular aim in life. Today's generation, weaned on WhatsApp wisdom, cannot fathom the greatness of Gandhi. Gandhian non-violence must be taught at all schools, colleges and varsities so that we can have morally strong and ideologically exalted humans. Ironically, while the whole world deifies Gandhi and demonises Godse, the reverse is obvious in India. ---- 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

Mahatma Gandhi Was Much Admired by Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Even Suhrawardy

By Saquib Salim, New Age Islam 30 January 2024 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is the most respected and admired as well as criticized and despised public figure from India. Myths, disinformation, and half-truths are often used to question his commitment to humanity in general and Indians in particular. Mahatma Gandhi inspecting the houses destroyed in the post-partition violence ----- Every year we see several Facebook posts, tweets, etc. on 15 August questioning why Gandhi was not in Delhi when India attained independence. A photograph in which Gandhi is seen with H. S. Suhrawardy, the then Muslim League leader and Chief Minister of Bengal at his house in Kolkata on 15 August 1947 accompanies such rants. It's a fact that Gandhi was in Bengal as India attained freedom from the British where he was trying to douse the fire of communal violence. The partition of India had pushed Muslims and Hindus to the brink of a civil war. Critics often see Gandhi’s efforts to stop this mayhem as his 'bias' against Hindus by his critics. They ask why he went to Bengal where mostly Muslims were killed and not to places where Hindus were under attack. Interestingly, a year ago, Gandhi faced a similar question from the Muslim League. After the direct-action day violence in which mostly Hindus suffered at the hands of Muslim League-led mobs; they asked him why he didn't show empathy for Muslims. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee ----- Harijan Newspaper reported (October 27 1946) quoted Gandhi as he addressed his followers in New Delhi, “He was not going to Bengal to pass judgment on anybody. He was going there as a servant of the people and he would meet Hindus and Muslims alike. Some Muslims looked upon him as an enemy today. They had not always done so. But he did not mind their anger. Were not his religionists angry with him at times?” Interestingly, people who criticise Gandhi for his role in 1947 often admire Shyama Prasad Mukherjee for stopping the riots in Bengal. They should know that Mukherjee was among the those who invited Gandhi to Bengal in August 1947. Vina Mazumdar in her autobiography Memories of a Rolling Stone notes, “While other leaders were preparing to celebrate the coming of independence, Gandhiji started on his journey back to Noakhali, accompanied by his chief interpreter, Prof. N.K. Bose. Before the train reached Howrah, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and H.S. Suhrawardy, the Chief Minister of Bengal, met Gandhiji and requested him to get down at Howrah and to use his presence to prevent the massacre of Muslims at the dawn of independence. “Shyama Prasad said, ‘We came together to convince you that we need your presence if we are to hold back the frenzy.’” It was the power of Gandhi’s character, which even critics should acknowledge, that a Muslim League leader like Suhrawardy, who led the killings of Hindus a year ago during the direct-action day, was sitting with him singing Bhajans in praise of Hindu gods. Suhrawardy was singing Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, wearing a lungi and vest like a common Bengali Hindu. Hamidul Huq Choudhury in his Memoirs noted that after the direct-action day killings when Gandhi arrived in Kolkata (then Calcutta) Syama Prasad Mukherjee accompanied him at every important place along with Pyarelal (Gandhi’s secretary). Suhrawardy did not listen to Gandhi and even misbehaved with him. Choudhury wrote that at the time of the Partition, Suhrawardy along with Gandhi, “used to move around with him preaching the gospel of Hindu‐Muslim unity.” Shyama Prasad Mukherjee was the leader of Hindu Mahasabha and went on to form Bhartiya Jana Sangh (the predecessor of the present-day BJP). He believed that only Gandhi was the solution to the problems Bengal was facing in 1946 and 1947. 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, January 29, 2024

‘Beyond The Babri’: Ayodhya Is As An Abode Of Shared Religious Heritage And Spiritual Symbiosis In Indo-Islamic Tradition!

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam 29 January 2024 Why should Muslims in India associate themselves with Ayodhya only because of the bulldozed Babri Masjid? Why can’t they look at Ayodhya—beyond the Babri— as the land of Ambiya and Auliya as well as Rishi-Munis; an oasis of spiritual symbiosis, an abode of shared spiritual heritage? Why should we allow the episode of Babri Masjid dominate our religious thoughts and colour our collective cultural understanding? Ram Mandir, Ayodhya ------ After the consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, which has been hailed by the President of India Droupadi Murmu as a “Landmark in India’s continued re-discovery of its civilisational heritage”, now the question is what’s next? What is the road ahead for India and its dense population of different faith practitioners? It is about time for all of us citizens—especially Hindus and Muslims of India— “to pledge to build a capable, magnificent, and divine India [which is] a step towards nation-building”, said the Prime Minister, finding a way forward from here. While delivering his ‘new mantra’—Dev Se Desh, Ram Se Rasthra (from God to country and from Rama to the Nation-building), the PM offered some rays of hope to the nation when he stated: the opening of Ram Mandir was not just a moment of “victory” (Vijay) but also “humility” (Vinay). But the frenzied fringes driven by this ‘victory’ are going haywire in some parts of the country. In a crazy bid to reclaim all the lost heritage sites of Hinduism, mostly based on Aastha (belief) and Manyta (legends), they are bound to be at the loggerheads with local Muslims as if they were the centuries-old invaders from Arabia or Central Asia. This will keep the present Indian Muslims further intimidated. They are clearly not accountable for the past mistakes that some Muslim invaders or Mughal rulers did centuries ago. However, I find a note of introspection on part of Indian Muslims too completely missing. Now after the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has called for conflict-resolution and an end to the long-standing ‘dispute’ and ‘bitterness’ as part of the campaign called “reconstruction of Bharatvarsha”, it is an opportunity for bonhomie. Both Hindus and Muslims must look at Ayodhya as an Indian oasis of shared spiritual heritage. The collective belief of Hindus and Indian Muslims in the divinity or prophethood of Shri Rama will be the beginning of this ‘reconstruction’. In my previous piece, I have highlighted how Muslim mystics, established ulema and Sufi saints of India have revered Rama as Rasool and as an Indian Prophet. See my article: The Discerning Eye Sees in Ram, Rasool! Now I would like to share my reflections on the spiritual historicity and sanctity of the city of Ayodhya from an Indo-Islamic perspective: As a madrasa student in Jamia Islamia, Raunahi Faizabad in 2005, I had an exposure to visit the birthplace of Shri Rama in Ajodhya. This so happened that I was appearing for an examination called, maulvi/Munshi as part of Uttar Pradesh Board of Madrasa Education where I met a local Muslim leader and social activist from Ayodhya, Dr Ambar Siddiqui. He took me to the Ram Janmabhoomi, and revealed that in Indo-Islamic tradition, Ajodhya had assumed a paramount position. Prominent prophets and messengers of Allah such as Nabi Sheesh A.S (Prophet Sheth) were buried in this sacred city. Thus, the historicity and sanctity of Ajodhya stands out in my memory and spiritual consciousness since my Madrasa student life. According to numerous reports, the grave of Nabi Nooh A.S (Prophet Noah) locally known as “26 Ghazi Mazar”, which I visited, is also there. The moment I entered the marked birthplace of Shri Rama, my early mystical experience at the age of 15 knew a new dimension. It was the first time I explored India as the land of Ambiya (Prophets) and Auliya (Saints), and Shri Rama as one of the earliest Indian Prophets who were a Divine Light to the people of this age-old civilisation. In Sufism, a Prophet is actually a Noori Bashar (a person of divine light) whereas in the Wahhabi view, every prophet is merely a Bashar (just like a common human being). Some Sufi saints of India went to the extent of believing Prophets as ‘Avtars of Allah’ (the descendants of the Divine Himself), and thus they understood the Islamic concept of Prophethood in terms of ‘Avtarvad’. For instance—famous Sufi poet Sheikh Abdul Aleem Aasi Ghazipuri, a revered elder of Khanqah-e-Rashidiyya, composed an Urdu couplet in praise of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as follows: Wahi Jo Mustawwi-e-Arsh Hai Khuda Ho Kar Utar Pada Hai Madine Mein Mustafa Ho Kar (Translation: The One who ascends the Throne/Arsh as Allah has ascended in Madina as Mustafa/Muhammad PBUH) The above esoteric Sufi couplet and its interpretation, of course, is a matter of contention with orthodox Muslims, but it is close to what Hindus would easily absorb. In fact, for Hindus who collectively believe in the divinity of all Avtars, this should not be contentious at all. Therefore, I find that it is incumbent upon Muslims in today’s India to revisit the spiritual historicity and sanctity of Ayodhya. They must look at Ayodhya as an abode of spiritual symbiosis and not allow the episode of Babri Masjid dominate their thoughts and colour their understanding. Ayodhya has been the land of both Rishi-Munis as well as Ambiya and Rusul (Prophets and Messengers of Allah) in the ancient ages. Needless to state that every nation was bestowed with a Prophet according to Qur’an: “And We certainly sent into every nation a messenger”. In fact, Ayodhya has been considered the land of Ambiya and Awiliya Allah as recorded in Abul Fazl’s Aaain-e-Akbari. It has been looked up to with great veneration in the undivided India by not just Hindus but also Muslims. According to Aaain-e-Akbari, Ayodhya has assumed great significance in Muslim history and religious consciousness. Apart from scores of mosques (around 100 big mosques and 54 small ones), the historic city houses 22 Sufi shrines, several dargahs and Mazars, 15 Imam Baadas as well as 100 Qabristans (Muslim cemeteries). In the Mughal period, the Muslim population in Ayodhya was around 67% thus making the city a Muslim-majority part of the country. It is quite interesting to note that even today, a great many Mohallas and Qasbas in Ayodhya are named after Prophets and Sufi Saints. For instance, “Nabi Nooh Mohalla”, “Nabi Sheesh Mohalla”, “Mohalla Shah Qalandar”, “Shamsuddin Mohalla”, “Syed Ibrahim Nagri”, “Syed Shah Mohalla” are some of the most noteworthy Mohallas in the densely populated city of Ayodhya. The history of Indian Sufi saints shows us that Ayodhya also has been the birthplace of several prominent pupils of the chief Chishti Saint of Delhi, Hazrat Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya (R.A). Famous among them was Hazrat Khwaja Naseeruddin Chiragh Dehlvi, popularly known as “Chiragh-e-Dilli”. All of these Chishti saints showed great reverence for the city of Ayodhya, not because it had the Babri Masjid in it, but rather because it has been an abode of Ambiya and Auliya, just as it was greatly venerated among the Rishi-Munis and Hindu mystics. Some of the prominent Sufi shrines located in Ayodhya are as under:  Dargah Hazrat Nooh A.S.  Dargah Hazrat Sheesh A.S.  Syed Shah Muqaddas Dargah  Teen Darveshon Ki Dargah  Makhdoom Shah Dargah  Shah Jamal Dargah  Shah Qalandar Dargah  Jamaluddin Qazi Dargah  Qazi Muhiyuddin Kashani Dargah  Zainuddin Ali Dargah  Kamaluddin Awadhi Dargah  Dargah Syed Muhammad Ibrahim  Shaheed Martaba Dargah  Shamsuddin Faryad Dargah  Fathullah Shah Dargah  Syed Alauddin Qarsani Dargah  Sultan Moosa Dargah  Alauddin Ali Dargah  Shaikh Fathullah Awadhi Dargah  Jamaluddin Ghazi Dargah  Aastana Hazrat Sheikh ul Aalam Makhdoom  Dargah Hazrat Sayyed Makhdoom Shah Bheeka Makki  Astana Shaikh Sayyah Baba  Hazrat Faizullah Shah Badi Dargah. ...  Mazar Hazrat Aashiq Shah Madni Warsi  Dargah Saheed E Millat Ayodhya has historically been famous for the festivals and occasions where Muslims and Hindus have jointly gathered in great joy and festivity. Muhammad Faiz Bakhsh, author of Tareekh-e-Farah Bakhsh notes that Hindus had a big mela (gathering) in which thousands of Muslims used to participate. In his Masnawi, Mir Hasan Dehlvi has also made a special mention of those Hindu occasions in Awadh and Ayodhya where Muslims took part in great numbers. On January 22, during the consecration ceremony of Ram temple in Ayodhya, Iqbal Ansari—the son of Hashim Ansari who spent a lifetime in courts as a litigant in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit case—was invited as a special guest. Similarly, the chief of All India Imams Organisation (AIIO) which claims to represent half-a-million imams across three lakh mosques in India was also there. This deports our memory back to the Ayodhya where Hindus and Muslims were equally and jointly participating in religious rites and ceremonies. This indeed should be the face of New India! ------ A Regular Columnist with, Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is an Indo-Islamic scholar and English-Arabic-Urdu writer with a background in a leading Sufi Islamic seminary in India. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Place of Music in Islam

By S. Arshad, New Age Islam 29 January 2024 Islam Prohibits Vain Entertainment Main Points: 1. The Quran prohibits Lahw-al-Hadith meaning vain entertainment. 2. Women of Madina greeted the holy prophet with songs accompanied by duff. 3. Avicenna considered music useful in treatment of maladies. 4. Abbasid caliphate promoted music therapy. 5. Sufis considered serene music permissible. ------ Recently, a mufti of Kashmir in India issued a fatwa declaring a three member women musical band un-Islamic. The fatwa sparked a controversy and a debate on whether music was allowed in Islam and the basis of its permissibility or impermissibility started. We find some instances where the holy prophet of Islam pbuh did not object to playing music. The women of Madina had greeted the holy prophet pbuh with songs accompanied by duff (a musical instrument). On the day of Eid, the holy prophet pbuh watched along with Hadhrat Ayesha the Bedouins sing and play duff. However, the Quran uses a term Lahw-al- Hadith meaning vain entertainment. "But there are some who employ theatrics (Lahw-al-hadith) only to lead others away from Allah 's way ---- without any knowledge -- and to make a mockery of it. They will suffer a humiliating punishment. (Luqman:6) The term does not use the word music but the Islamic commentators and exegetes have meant music by Lahw. Law -al-Hadith literally means play of words. On the basis of this interpretation, the exegetes have concluded that the Quran completely rejects music. But going by the hadiths and instances from the holy prophet's life it can be inferred that music is not totally banned in Islam and that Lahw-al-hadith does not cover all forms of music and entertainment. The verse in chapter Luqman can also be interpreted as disapproval of a means of entertainment that leads people away from Allah's path and makes a mockery of it. The music that is used for positive purposes does not come under vain entertainment or Lahw-al-hadith according to this interpretation. Music has also been used for positive purposes since ancient times. In Egypt, China, Greece and Rome, music was used for treatment of physical and mental maladies. The great Muslim physician and scientist Avicenna (Abi Sina) considered music useful in curing disease. During Abbasid caliphate in the 7th and 8th century, music therapy was used in government hospitals called Bimaristan. During those days, music was obligatory for every learned man. In fact, the Arabs developed the art of music and Ibn Misjah of Umayyid era is called the father of 'Islamic music', a term that appears paradoxical. In the modern era, music therapy has developed considerably. Since the Quran has only disapproved of Lahw-al-hadith, it may be inferred that the Quran is not against the therapeutic use of music and is only against immoral or vulgar use of music. The Sufis have also used music in their assemblies of Samaa (Sufi music) though not all orders of Sufism approve of the use of music in Samaa. But indeed, some Sufi orders permit the restrained use of music in Samaa. Many prominent Sufis also knew how to play musical instruments. Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi was in favour of music and was deft in playing some musical instruments. His spiritual guide (murshid) Shams Tabrezi also knew the use of musical instruments. The great Urdu-Persian poet and disciple of Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya, Amir Khusrau, was also a great musician. Music, therefore, in itself is not good or bad in nature. It is good if used with good intentions and bad if used for bad purposes. Music played in accompaniment of vulgar dance under the spell of wine cannot be approved or music with vulgar songs that lead one away from Allah's way or to make a mockery of ethical and moral values can in no way be supported. Music that soothes the mind and provides spiritual solace to the listeners may be permitted. Music played on festivals or social events with considerations of moral and religious values have been approved. Islam warns Muslims against vain entertainment (Lahw-Al-Hadith) and Lahw-O-Layib (useless pastime). It warns Muslims against unbridled vulgar or immoral activities of entertainment that give way to moral corruption and waywardness among the people. Islam prescribes a moderate approach in every matter of social significance including music. ----- S. Arshad is a columnist with URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

When Will Good Days Come - Will We Die Waiting for Them?

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 28 January 2024 "Agar Tujh Ko Fursat Nahin Ho Toh Na Aana Magar Ek Achchha Nabi Bhej Dena " Mohammad Alvi (Almighty if you don't have the time to come down yourself, send a good prophet instead)." Do you know, Urdu poet Muhammad Alvi, whose death anniversary falls on January 29, is remembered for the aforementioned 'blasphemous' couplet? Ironically, Chautha Aasmaan - the collection of Alvi's ghazals that contained the lines that offended the Darul Uloom Shah-e-Alam, Ahmedabad - won the national Sahitya Academy Award for the best book of Urdu literature in 1993! Mohammad Alvi ----- One of the most perceptive Ghazalgo of our times, Alvi had a simple style and a direct way of approaching his readers. Read this couplet and you'll agree: Dhoop Ne Guzarish Ki/ Ek Boond Baarish Ki (Scalding heat requested for a drop of rains). This is the kind of poetic simplicity (Bilwaaq in Persian prosody) that makes the readers and lesser poets think, nay rue, why didn't this thought occur to me? Elsewhere Alvi writes, "Alfaaz Faeel Pe Hote Hain/ Kahin Se Dhoondh Ke Laata Nahin Main" (Words are on the tip of my nib/ I don't search for them). Look at the admirable use of a rather archaic word 'Faeel ' for the tip of a nib. When he says, 'Roz Achchhe Nahin Lagte Aansoo/ Khaas Mauqon Pe Maza Dete Hain, you wholeheartedly agree with him as the Irish Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney said the same thing, albeit in a slightly different way, " Tears that fall now and then/ Often lose their intensity and Zen." One of the finest couplets of Alvi is: Andhera Hai, Kaise Tere Khat Padhoon/ Lifafe Mein Kuchh Roshni Bhej De (It's dark, how should I read your letters? / Please put some light in the envelope). When I meet my Urdu-knowing old friends familiar with Mohammad Alvi's poetry, we always quote this couplet: Achchhe Din Kab Aayenge/ Kya Yoon Hi Mar Jayenge (When will good days come/ Will we die waiting for them). I intend to send this couplet to a bearded megalomaniac with a note that Alvi Sahab hailed from your state. By the way, Alvi hailed from Ahmedabad. I also want to add this couplet: Raat Pade Ghar Jaana Hai/ Subha Talak Mar Jaana Hai (Going home at night/ Dying by morning). It's a phrasal couplet inspired by the Gujarati idiom that means a poor person has nothing to look forward to: He goes home late and dies before the crack of the dawn. This seems to be the general scenario in India. Life taught him and myriad experiences mentored him: Aag Apne Hi Laga Sakte Hain/ Ghair Toh Sirf Hava Dete Hain (Those who're 'close' set the house on fire/ Outsiders only stoke the flames). He was also a very gentle soul and full of piety. That's why he could say, "Main Us Ke Badan Ki Muqaddas Kitab/ Nihayat Aqeedat Se Padhta Raha" (I kept reading the pious book of his body with a deep sense of reverence). This reminds me of one more such platonic couplet, though written by someone else: Tu Hi Shaahid-O-Ameen Hai Meri Paak Khilwaton Ka/ Sare-Shaam Aane Wale, Dam-e-Subha Jaane Wale (You're the witness to my sacred solitude/ As you came at night and left at dawn-with chastity intact). One agrees with Alvi, "Main Naahaq Din Kaat Raha Hoon/ Kaun Yahan Sau Saal Jiya Hai" (I’m simply whiling away my time/ Who has lived here for an inordinate period?). Alvi's poetry introduces you to life's different facets and phases and makes you think. ---- 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, January 27, 2024

Waqf Properties: Biggest ‘Undiscussed’ Scam In India

By Grace Mubashir, New Age Islam 27 January 2024 Waqf Properties Are Becoming Fiefdoms Of Elites Of The Muslim Community As The Huge Properties Are Not Used In Optimal Strength ----- Main Points: 1. India, with its significant Muslim population of over 172 million, possesses thousands of Waqf properties 2. The primary objectives are to preserve the property and maximize revenues for the recipients 3. Waqf land, dedicated in the name of Allah, has been unlawfully transferred or leased out for personal gain, often involving collusion among politicians, police, bureaucrats, and land mafias 4. One notable initiative is the Waqf Management System of India (WAMSI) Portal introduced by the minority affairs ministry, aimed at digitizing data of Waqf properties ------ The term "Waqf" originates from the Arabic verb "waqafa," which means "to detain," "to hold," or "to tie up." In legal terms, it refers to the protection of a property from becoming the possession of a third party. It entails the permanent dedication by a Muslim of beneficial property to the possession of Allah SWT. The manager, known as the mutawalli, is responsible for governing the Waqf properties in the best interest of the beneficiaries, as determined by the Waqf founder. The primary objectives are to preserve the property and maximize revenues for the recipients. These revenues are utilized for the benefit of society, including social, spiritual, and economic purposes, such as supporting the poor, mosques, schools, graveyards, orphans, widows, and the elderly. The list of beneficiaries is extensive, determined by the donor's discretion for Sharia-compliant purposes. India, with its significant Muslim population of over 172 million, possesses thousands of Waqf properties. Historically, Waqf properties in India were managed individually by appointed Mutawallis and overseen by Qazis according to Sharia law during the Mughal regime. However, with the decline of the Mughal Empire and the onset of British rule, significant changes occurred in governance methods. As a result, the institution of Waqf underwent substantial transformations, losing its special status and judicial supervision. Issues and Challenges of State Waqf Boards In India, there are 32 Waqf boards responsible for the common supervision of their respective Auqaf in their States/Union Territories. However, the relationship between Waqf boards and corruption in India is deeply intertwined. There has been a longstanding issue of systematic corruption, involving the mismanagement and exploitation of Waqf land meant for the welfare of society, including orphans, widows, and educational and charitable purposes. Waqf land, dedicated in the name of Allah, has been unlawfully transferred or leased out for personal gain, often involving collusion among politicians, police, bureaucrats, and land mafias. Despite regulations prohibiting the sale or change of use of Waqf land, corrupt practices persist, with valuable properties leased out at nominal rates to individuals or entities connected to those in power. Examples of such corruption include instances like the allocation of prime land on Atta Mount Road in Maharashtra to Mukesh Ambani for a high-rise apartment complex and the leasing of the Windsor Manor Hotel in Bangalore for a fraction of its true value. The Sachar Committee Report highlighted the urgent need for a comprehensive overhaul of the Waqf Board system, as many states lack qualified CEOs to manage these institutions effectively. Numerous challenges plague Waqf boards in fulfilling their duties, including inadequate governance structures, lack of transparency, and the absence of qualified personnel. Addressing these issues requires concerted efforts to strengthen accountability, improve governance practices, and combat corruption within Waqf boards to ensure that Waqf properties fulfil their intended purpose of serving the welfare of society. Encroachment Waqf properties across the country, especially in North India, particularly in Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi, have been subjected to extensive encroachment, exacerbated by the partition. During the mass migration of Muslims to Pakistan, significant properties endowed as Waqfs were left behind, falling into the hands of custodians who often allocated them to refugees and displaced individuals based on ownership rather than adhering to Waqf principles. With the establishment of Waqf Boards under the Waqf Act of 1954 and subsequent surveys, it was revealed that a large number of Waqf properties were unlawfully occupied. Efforts were made to reclaim these properties through legal processes, but many suits were time-barred. To address this, the Public Waqfs (Extension of Limitation) Act of 1959 was enacted, extending the deadline for filing suits to recover unlawfully occupied Waqf properties. Despite some properties being recovered through this process, litigation proved to be expensive and often drained the resources of the endowed property. Muslim communities have advocated for extending the provisions of the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupation) Act of 1958 to Waqf properties to streamline eviction processes. However, this extension has not been implemented, causing further challenges in reclaiming encroached Waqf properties. The effectiveness of Waqf legislation in salvaging properties is hindered by various factors, including the lack of enforcement will among law implementation agencies and insufficient staffing and funds. Sections 51 to 56 of the Waqf Act of 1995 address critical issues such as the prevention of alienation, recovery of Waqf properties, prohibition on purchase, removal of encroachments, and leasing restrictions. Section 54, which empowers the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Waqf Boards to initiate action for the removal of encroachments, is particularly important. However, the implementation of these provisions depends on the commitment and resources allocated to the Waqf Boards. Growing Mismanagement The mismanagement of Waqf properties has become a pressing issue, with Waqf boards often failing to fulfil their responsibility to safeguard these assets. Instances of Waqf land being sold to developers and private buyers at low rates in exchange for illicit kickbacks have been reported, highlighting the vulnerability of these properties to exploitation. It's estimated that over half of Waqf properties are occupied by individuals who are not legitimate owners, further exacerbating the problem. Efforts to address these issues have been marred by controversies and allegations of corruption. Instances such as the removal of a chief executive officer of the Maharashtra State Waqf Board for allegedly transferring Waqf land to a private developer for non-Waqf purposes, and the Delhi Waqf Board facing criticism over the appointment of a tainted MLA as chairman, underscore the challenges in governance and accountability. Despite recommendations from committees such as the Justice Rajindar Sachar panel in 2006 calling for an overhaul of Waqf boards and stricter monitoring of properties, little progress has been made. Plans to bring Waqf properties under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act have also not materialized. One notable initiative is the Waqf Management System of India (WAMSI) Portal introduced by the minority affairs ministry, aimed at digitizing data of Waqf properties. While this represents a step forward in modernizing Waqf management, more concerted efforts are needed to address the systemic challenges and root out corruption in the management of Waqf properties. The Way Ahead Protecting Waqf properties in India requires a multi-faceted approach involving legal, administrative, and community-based measures. Here are some steps that can be taken to safeguard these assets: · Strengthen Legal Framework: Enhance existing laws related to Waqf properties to ensure stricter regulations and penalties for illegal occupation, encroachment, and misuse. This may involve amending the Waqf Act and other relevant legislation to provide more teeth to enforcement agencies. · Effective Enforcement: Ensure effective enforcement of laws governing Waqf properties by empowering enforcement agencies with adequate resources, training, and authority to take action against encroachers and illegal occupants. · Transparent Governance: Promote transparency and accountability in the management of Waqf properties by implementing measures such as digitization of records, regular audits, and public disclosure of information related to Waqf assets and transactions. · Community Engagement: Involve local communities, religious leaders, and Waqf stakeholders in the protection and management of Waqf properties. Encourage community participation in decision-making processes and empower local committees to oversee the upkeep of Waqf assets. · Capacity Building: Provide training and capacity-building programs for Waqf board members, administrators, and staff to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively manage and protect Waqf properties. · Public Awareness: Raise awareness among the general public about the importance of Waqf properties and the need to protect them for the benefit of the community. Use media campaigns, workshops, and outreach programs to educate people about Waqf laws, rights, and responsibilities. · Collaboration and Partnerships: Foster collaboration and partnerships between government agencies, civil society organizations, religious institutions, and other stakeholders to pool resources and expertise for the protection and preservation of Waqf properties. · Legal Assistance: Provide legal assistance and support to Waqf boards and community organizations to address legal challenges, file cases against encroachers, and recover unlawfully occupied Waqf properties through the judicial system. By adopting a comprehensive approach that combines legal reforms, effective governance, community engagement, and collaboration, Waqf properties in India can be better protected and preserved for the benefit of future generations. ----- 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

Personality Worship Among Muslims Resulted In Many Beliefs That Are Not Supported By The Quran

By New Age Islam Staff Writer 27 January 2024 Sectarianism Is The Result Of Personality Worship Main Points: 1. The belief in Taqleed is the result of personality worship. 2. Contradictory explanations of Quranic verses were presented by different scholars. 3. Extremism and violence became a way of Muslims because of personality worship. 4. Muslims do not scrutinise the views of religious scholars with the help of Quran because of personality worship. ----- Islam does not approve of personality worship, especially in matters of faith. It enjoins on the Muslims to revert to the Quran and Hadiths for guidance in religious or social matters. In the Quran, God says: "Today I have perfected your faith for you, completed my favours upon you and chosen Islam as your way."(Al Maidah:3) Islam was completed and perfected during the lifetime of the holy prophet pbuh and all the teachings of Islam were made clear to the Muslims by the prophet pbuh. Therefore, there was no need to make any changes in the Islamic laws or introduce any new custom or ritual in it. Not the greatest of Islamic scholars or any group of scholars was authorised to add any thing new in the religion. The Muslims were advised to learn the Deen from scholars but the scholars were warned against making innovations in Deen. The believers were told to help each other in matters of Deen including in learning Deen. But gradually, the Islamic scholars acquired cult figure. They propagated their own individual views on various issues of Islam. Different scholars came out with different explanations of the verses of the Quran. Some times, they presented contradictory explanations of the verses leading to new beliefs among the Muslims. For example, take the issue of secularism. While some scholars have the view that secularism is in consonance with Islam, the others say that secularism is akin to atheism or Kufr. Since the common Muslims did not have the knowledge of the Quran, they believed in the explanations and views of the scholars. In this way, religious scholars developed their own followers and their own schools of thought. This resulted in sects among the Muslims. Every sect has its own imam or leader and the followers of one sect consider the followers of other sects on the wrong path or even Kafir. They believe that the followers of all the other sects are worthy to be killed. But the fact is that the Quran does not approve of sectarianism. The Quran says: "Indeed, those who have divided their religion and become sects --you (O Muhammad) are not (associated) with them in anything. Their affair is only (left) to Allah, then He will inform them about what they used to do."(Al Anam:159). God asks His prophet to express his disapproval of sectarianism but the followers of sects actually take pride in their sects. This is because of personality worship among Muslims. One glaring example of personality worship among Muslims is the commentary of the verse of surah Luqman by Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani. The verse is as follows: "And We have commanded people to honour their parents. Their mothers bore them through hardship and their weaning takes away two years. So be grateful to Me and your parents. To Me is the final return." (Luqman:14) Maulana Shabbir Ahmad writes: "Though the Quran mentions the period of weaning away as two years, Imam Abu Hanifa says it is two and a half years. He might have his own argument but the majority of ulema say it is two years." This is the peak of personality worship. When the Quran clearly says that the period of weaning away is two years, Imam Abu Hanifa says it is two and half years. And instead of criticising Imam Abu Hanifa for having and propagating his belief contrary to that of the Quran, he says that Imam Abu Hanifa might have his own reasons to have a different view. Did he have a different Quran? The issue of blasphemy has also become the cause of much bloodshed among the Muslims because of the personality worship. The Quran asks the Muslims to observe restraint in face of blasphemy. The Quran says: "You believers will surely be tested in your wealth and yourselves, and you will certainly hear many hurtful words from those who were given the scripture before you and from the polytheists. But if you are patient and mindful of Allah, then surely there is a resolve to aspire to."(Al-e-Imran:186) But many Islamic scholars have ignored this verse and have propagated violent approach to blasphemy. They have the view that one who commits blasphemy should be killed, even if the accused is a Muslim. The followers of those Islamic scholars do no have the courage to question their views because of personality worship. Therefore, there is a lot of bloodshed in the Muslim society in the name of protecting the honour of the prophet pbuh. In Pakistan, Muslims kill a Muslim at the order of a Islamic religious scholar or a cleric whom they follow for blasphemy though the order or fatwa of the cleric is itself in violation of the principle of the Quran. But the bloodshed is committed due to personality worship. The issue of the Manhood of the prophet pbuh is also a cause of difference and bloodshed among the Muslims. A section of the Muslim clerics believe that the prophet was not a human being (Bashar) but Noor ( light). Those who believe that the prophet pbuh was a human being are considered a blasphemer though the Quran declares loudly that the prophet was a human being. The Quran declares this in more than three verses. "Say glory to my Lord! Am I not only a human messenger."(Bani Israil:93) "Say you, in being a human being indeed I am like you, it is revealed to me that your God is ne God, so be straight before Him and beg forgiveness from Him and woe be to the associators."(Ha Meem Sajda:6) A sect of Muslims has a belief contrary to the Quran' s only because of personality worship. They consider the leader of their sect above the Quran or do not have the courage to question the opinion of their religious leader. Ironically, those who believe in the verses of the Quran are considered on the wrong path. The issue of establishing caliphate has also become an important issue among a large section because some renowned Islamic scholars propagated their own interpretations of the Quranic verses and interpretations of Islamic caliphate of the initial years of Islam though the Quran does not prescribe any particular form.of government as Islamic. Shah Waliullah even wrote a book on Caliphate cementing the belief of the Muslims that the caliphate was the only form of government for the Muslims and that every Muslim has his duty towards establishing caliphate. In fact, the Quran only stresses on ensuring good governance, equality, respect for other religions, protection of the rights of minorities, honesty, righteousness etc. The Quran mentions both caliphate and kingdom in the Quran. The Quran says that God bestowed caliphate to prophet David pbuh but prophet Solomon pbuh prayed to God for a kingdom that would not be rivalled by any king after him. God granted his prayer. Taloot was made the king of his community against the army of Jaloot. Therefore, the Quran does not specify any particular form of government for Islamic nations but some Islamic scholars propagated the idea of the caliphate and the followers of those scholars accepted their personal views as the position of the Quran. In fact, this misplaced belief became the cause of civil war and bloodshed in the Middle East during the last decade. The terrorist organisation ISIS exploited this belief of the Muslims and claimed to have established a caliphate in Levant in June 2014. It committed large scale slaughter of Muslims and rape of Muslim and non -Muslim women in the region. There are other beliefs of the Muslims as well that are based on personality worship and not on verses of the Quran. Therefore, personality worship among the Muslims has caused much harm to Islam and the Muslims of the world. 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

Faith Is Our Inexorable Fate

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 27 January 2024 "It is obvious from the statistical (empirical) analysis that Belief in God is the default position of humanity from day one. It is so, not because of an aberration of thought but because of a genuine need of humans to be at internal peace." Waheeduddin Ahmed "Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed." Friedrich Nietzsche I agree with Mr Waheeduddin despite being an apatheist. Faith is humans' inexorable fate. Here I'm completely avoiding the most stupid debate regarding god's existence or non-existence. That's perennially inconclusive because it always leads to bitterness. Humans' belief in god is a natural evolutionary process. Oxford psychologist Justin Barrett believes that the human brain (not mind; it doesn't exist) creates 'healthy' illusions for a relatively less complicated existence on earth. Out of those 'healthy' illusions, the belief in a supernatural being is also there as an inherited perception and the manifestation of an evolutionary adaptation that exists exclusively within the human brain. Some neuro-biologists even believe that there's a G(od)-spot in the human brain. But that's as elusive as a female G-spot, to use a homonymous pun. In fact, there is no actual spiritual reality, no God or gods, no soul, or afterlife. Consequently, humankind can no longer be viewed as a product of God but rather God must be viewed as a product of human cognition. But that's again polemic. Point is: Nature Nurtures as Thoreau said. Nature has nurtured the human brain in a BELIEVING way. To believe is to relieve. To believe in something (supernatural) is not just evolutionary development, it's also a psychological ploy for survival. Newton said, God is man's last resort. It sure is. Because it has been found that even hardcore atheists have remembered god at least once in life! There's no atheist in a foxhole is a famous English proverb. A few years ago, the world's most celebrated atheist Richard Dawkins blurted out, Oh my god, when a believer's question stumped him! Neurologists have rightly concluded that god resides in EVERY individual's consciousness as an evolutionary reality or illusion. To all believers (who constitute nearly 72 percent of world's population) god is a REALITY and to the non-believers, agnostics, sceptics, atheists and apatheists, god is an ILLUSION. To quote Urdu poet Jameel Mazhari: Khwaab Ho Ya Phir Haqeeqat/ Hai Wajood Donon Hi Sooraton Mein Us Ka (Whether a dream or a reality/ It does exist in both ways). Those who question and doubt, deny the existence of god. But ontologically, they also somewhere and somehow contribute to perpetuating the myth of god. All said and done, one must never be so arrogant as to deny every 'reality' as an illusion. Human brain is still unable to grasp thousands of phenomena. ---- 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

Friday, January 26, 2024

Science And God: Belief In God Is The Default Position Of Humanity

By Waheeduddin Ahmed, New Age Islam 26 January 2024 Reason Has Been Challenging Faith Ever Since The Beginning Of Human Consciousness. The Age Of Reason Came And Went. God Did Not Give An Inch. The Age Of Atheism Opened Its Books With Socrates And Democritus. Friedrich Nietzsche In Germany Declared That God Was Dead. ----- How do religion and science deal with the fundamental question of being, i.e., how everything came into existence? An example of the religious point of view on the subject is the Bible’s declaration: He said Be and it came into being. “It, we presume is the whole universe as it came into being instantaneously in a certain initial form. Since we witness that the universe is not static but dynamic, its initial form must have been quite different from what we see now. We see that the universe is a highly organized assembly of congruent matter interacting with clockwork precision. We deduce therefore that at its inception the universe must have been in an elementary, chaotic form, with all its elements existing loose and separate. Also, the Bible tells us that our progenitors: Adam and Eve, at first lived in the Garden of Eden, where waters flowed, vegetation flourished, and reptiles hissed. When they were sent down to earth, the earth’s environment must have been similarly life supporting. It is thus reasonable to assume that life began on earth much later in time after the Big Bang, whence vegetation grew, and serpents hissed in the bushes. Another astronomical period thereafter would have to elapse before Adam arrived on the scene and saw the rainbows. The first act in the story of Genesis appears in the Bible without a prologue and a depiction of the scene. Science, on the other hand, posits that the cosmos was, before time began, a dimensionless dot, contained in something, compressed under untold pressure to an unimaginable magnitude of density. Then, all of a sudden, there was a “big bang” and the universe exploded into existence. Out came three entities: matter, time, and space, carrying in their bosoms the laws of physics, that governed the way in which they were to interact with each other. In other words, the script was already written and preserved to the minutest detail in every particle of the matter. We can say that if the universe was an organism this script was the DNA of its gene. Next, the matter condensed to form the lumps that became the galaxies. The difference between Be and Big Bang, is now beginning to be somewhat obscure. Significantly noticeable is the fact that both, God’s, and science’s narratives begin in the middle, the causal part of the event having been brutally truncated and rendered unknowable. Also, we humans have been deprived of any understanding of the past in historiographic terms, nor any cerebral provision is thrown our way. Science not only offers us humans a vast field of exploration, it also tells us our limits. The brain cells are only so many. Therefore, our brain’s storage capacity is limited. We live within the boundaries of our specific capabilities. Whether it is our vision, hearing, thinking, understanding, lifespan, any other sensory capability or physical growth, we live within ranges that are assigned to human species. Other species have their own specific ranges. So, we have to gracefully accept the fact that our knowledge cannot possibly be all encompassing. Why should we not believe that in the limitless expanse of the universe, except for a tiny sliver, there is much that is unknowable to us. Scientists are all insomniacs, dealing with puzzles, drawing lines and connecting dots. They go to their graves clinging to puzzles. If life is about struggle to achieve satisfaction and internal peace, scientists are the most miserable creatures on earth. On the other hand, in religion puzzles do not exist, because Faith fills every gap. Faith is as organic as hunger and thirst. Civilizations came into being because of man’s quest to achieve safety and solace. The earliest settlements that have been excavated have revealed structures dedicated to the worship of gods. Their morphology aside, the idols of all forms and shapes contain a common spirit that represents man’s spiritual resignation, the gaps in his physical and mental prowess. This man is practical. He is unwilling to lose sleep in trying to solve puzzles, which are unsolvable. Therefore, he hands over this arduous task to a deity or a pantheon and then turns his attention to mundane day to day tasks that demand his attention. To him it does not matter whether his idol is made of gold or mud, is male or female, has one hand or many; the object of his worship is transcendent. It is the deity’s assumed source of beneficence that he is worshipping. IF Faith is body, Fate is its soul. They are two faces of the same coin. Fate has no rationale. It is immoral, cruel and yet woven into the fabric of life. It is the latter’s defining trait. Consider these two scenarios, we are all too familiar with: I am driving on a fast, busy road listening to music. In a spur of a careless moment, I make a mistake but avoid serious accident, narrowly escaping death. I remember that before me thousands of individuals under similar circumstances had been instantaneously killed. What was special about me that I was spared? A statistical puzzle no doubt! A child dies in a family, leaving his young parents and ailing grandparents behind. Why do young die and old live? What wisdom and what purpose is behind this travesty of justice? I am left sleepless with this unsolvable puzzle. Science is hiding its face. All I see is fate, a random distribution of misfortune, the invisible hand, omnipotent, and omnipresent. If I had no Faith, I would be tormented into insanity, but Faith gives me consolation and the troubling questions that arise in my mind are erased. Reason has been challenging Faith ever since the beginning of human consciousness. The Age of Reason came and went. God did not give an inch. The age of Atheism opened its books with Socrates and Democritus. Friedrich Nietzsche in Germany declared that God was dead. Marx’s axiom: “religion is the opium of mind” held sway in much of the world from Berlin to Beijing but in a swift turn of events, turned its tail after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Almost all the “enlightened” atheist thinkers in Eastern Europe rushed back to the Orthodox Church, the Poles returned to Papa, the East Germans revived their memories of Martin Luther and the Qurans once again started to be sold in Samarqand and Bukhara. The faces of Marx and Lenin were defaced, never to be refreshed again. Such was the fate of Reason and Enlightenment within just one century of its prevalence. We conclude that nothing is more certain than uncertainty in life. Luxurious lifestyle, happiness, blissful moments, fame, power, prosperity --- they are all volatile and transient. Today they are, tomorrow they are gone without a trace. They say life has a purpose but in my “being”’ I did not see any global purpose or a grand design. My birth was without my consent. As the Urdu poet Mohannad Ibrahim Zauq has said: لائ حیات آۓ قضا لے چلی چلے اپنی خوشی نہ آۓ نہ اپنی خوشی چلے (Life brought me here, death carried me away.) (It was not my wish to come, nor did I wish to go.) So, what conclusion do we draw from the above legend? It is obvious from the statistical (empirical) analysis that Belief in God is the default position of humanity from day one. It is so, not because of an aberration of thought but because of a genuine need of humans to be at internal peace. 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

Why Do You've To Be So Touchy?

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 26 January 2024 The Supreme Court on Thursday, January 25, stayed criminal proceedings against Samajwadi Party leader Swami Prasad Maurya who allegedly made objectionable remarks about ‘Ramcharitmanas’, a sacred Hindu text based on the Ramayana. “Why do you have to be so touchy? It’s his opinion… It’s a matter of interpretation. How is it an offence?” A Bench of Justice BR Gavai and Justice Sandeep Mehta asked the Uttar Pradesh Government counsel. There's no denying the fact that Tulsidas' 'Ramcharitmanas' has objectionable passages. The most infamous being: Dhor, Ganwaar, Pashu, Shudra, Naari/ Sab Taadan Ke Adhikari. It's so obvious and self-explanatory that it needs no further interpretation. You cannot absolve Tulsidas of gender and caste bias. Moreover, Tulsidas was a rebuffed man. Though married, his wife Ratnavali was exasperated by her uxorious husband. She humiliated him. Tulsidas never forgot that humiliation. So, a doting and uxorious husband turned a misogynist! He was a Brahmin and at that time, no Brahmin had any kind of sympathy for Dalits. If today, someone questions Tulsidas' attitude towards women and dalits, he or she has every right to ask. Just by writing 'Ramcharitmanas,' Tulsidas doesn't become irreproachable. In fact there's nothing sacrosanct and irreproachable in this world. No man, no book, no faith and no god is beyond reproach. Nietzsche's 'Critical Irreverence' towards everything and every person is necessary in a civilized and cerebral society. It's really ironic that in the 1950s and 60s, there were at least 10 students pursuing their doctorates in Hindi at India's leading universities with their emphasis on Tulsidas' misogynistic and caste-based biases in Ramcharitmanas. The guides were legends like Bhagirath Mishra, Dr Hajari Prasad Dwivedi and Dr Vidyaniwas Mishra. No one objected. All the students got their PhDs despite being critical of Tulsidas and his Ramcharitmanas. This is knowledge, nay wisdom when you allow the other person to present his/her viewpoint however tangential that may be. And look at today's scenario! People rush to the court the moment you say something unpalatable about a revered mythological character, holy book or god. Have we evolved or devolved? Have we advanced or gone back? Ask yourself in solitude. ---- 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

Thursday, January 25, 2024

If You Criticise Someone Else's Faith, Someone Else Will Criticise Yours

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 25 January 2024 "Rizz says that Islam is "a religion that simply couldn’t be from God." Actually, that can be said about all religions, including Christianity..........................." Mr Ghulam Mohiyuddin "When you condemn a faith, don't restrict yourself to condemning just one. Condemn all, including yours, for, all faiths are equally dubious, flawed and worth-discarding. " Bertrand Russell Rizz, like all Christians, may be delusional about his personal relationship with a PUTATIVE Jesus, but is there any historical evidence to make us believe that the fantastical stories of Jesus in the gospels are fact rather than fiction? Jesus is said to have miraculously fed thousands of people and raised the dead. When he was crucified, a great unnatural darkness is said to have covered the land, the whole earth quaked and split open and the dead came out of their graves. If such dramatic occurrences had actually happened, they'd surely have been mentioned by one of the many historians of the time. Yet, none of them does. The Romans kept detailed legal records, but no record of the trial or crucifixion of Jesus has ever been found. That's why Jesus' PUTATIVE crucifixion is often derided as crucifiction! Later Christians forged such documents, but these have long been known to be fakes. In fact, from the hundreds of books written during this extremely literate period in history, only a few fragments of text are brought forward as possible evidence for the historical Jesus. But none of them stands up to scrutiny. From all the Roman authors, there're three small passages in Pliny, Suetonius and Tacitus, which Christian apologists claim as proof of the existence of Jesus. But these authors were writing in the 2nd century, long after the supposed life of Jesus, and all they actually tell us is that a few Christians existed in the Roman world at this time, which has never been in doubt. In short, Jesus never EXISTED. The point is: If you want to dig out earthworms, chances are that snakes will also come out. If you criticise someone else's faith, rest assured, your faith will also be questioned. So, either condemn all or better, keep mum. The whole world is religiously supercharged. We're least concerned about humanity and its concomitant issues. This faith is right. That faith is wrong. This god is fake. Mine is True. Sanatan is the only faith. Jesus is the only god. Ram is a universal god. Muhammad is the only perfect human ever to have graced the earth. Krishna is the supreme deity. Islam is the one and only religion. What nonsense! We seem to be more puerile than kids and suffer from a child's my toy is bigger than yours Syndrome. We call ourselves to be 'enlightened' but in fact, we're the most benighted creatures, living like troglodytes, Neanderthals and sub-humans. ---- 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

Idea Of India In The Times Of Sectarian Nationalism

By Ram Puniyani, New Age Islam 25 January 2024 We Need The Ideology Which Binds The Weaker Sections Of Society, The Dalits, Religious Minorities, Women, Workers And Adivasis. They Have Many Common Values To Protect And That Is The ‘Idea Of India’ Which Came With Freedom Movement. ------ Satyapal Malik, the ex-Governor of many states stated that the role of Pulwama and Balakot was very much there in the victory of Modi-BJP in the previous 2019 General elections. He also predicted some other major spectacle may happen before the 2024 elections. The hysteria created around the temple consecration is a spectacle of high order. At the same time Suranya Aiyer, a lawyer and author has undertaken a fast and penitence, calling it 72 hours of love and sorrow to fellow Muslims. She proclaims her pride in Mughal heritage. One can see the creation of a stifling atmosphere of divisiveness around, which sounds very intimidating. As such temple inaugurations have also been occasions of promoting communal harmony as a couple of instances will show. Mahatma Gandhi while inaugurating Laxminarayan Temple (Birla Temple) in Delhi in 1939 had stated, “It must be the daily prayer of every adherent of the Hindu faith…that every known religion of the world should grow from day to day and should serve the whole of humanity…I hope that these temples will serve to propagate the idea of equal respect for religions and to make communal jealousies and strife; things of the past.” More or less on similar lines Swami Vivekananda had earlier stated, (1997) “it is here in India that Hindus have built and are still building churches for Christians and mosques for Mohammedans.” In his book ‘Lectures from Colombo to Almora’ we see Swamiji stating “Nay more, to understand that not only should we be charitable, but also positively helpful to each other, however different our religious ideas and convictions may be. And that is exactly what we do in India as I have just related to you… That is the thing to do.” The present atmosphere is in total contrast to this as reflected by the fast of Suranya. It is also reflected in the incidents where cultural activists screening censor approved all time classic by Anand Patwardhan, ‘Ram Ke Naam’ are being arrested and issued non bailable arrest warrants. This happened in Hyderabad on 20th January. Then there are claims by the likes of Prafulla Ketkar, Editor of unofficial RSS mouthpiece Organiser claiming that “the Pran-Pratishtha (consecration ceremony) of Ram Lalla in Ayodhya was not simply the culmination of the decades-old Ram Janmabhoomi movement, but the beginning of a “reconstruction of national consciousness”. This essentially means the whole process of social change and the idea of India which accompanied the freedom movement now stands to be negated and what can roughly called ‘Hindu India’ is already there and multiple steps towards Hindu rashtra have been achieved by the communal forces. What accompanied the ‘Idea of India’ was a coming together of different sections of society to fight the colonial powers, with the aspirations of striving for Liberty Equality, Fraternity and Justice for all. This massive movement had the overarching ‘Idea of India’, which culminated in the values of Indian Constitution. There were challenges to this idea of India, which were rooted in the values of Kingdoms and what can be roughly called feudal society. The core of these values which are being hailed by the forces creating hysteria around temple consecration were/are the birth based hierarchies of caste, class and gender. The roots of these lay in the Kings and landlords of different religions and their ideologues who came forward as Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha and RSS. While Muslim communal forces are implementing their idea of feudal values in Pakistan, the Hindu communal forces are now rejoicing, in gradually increasing intensity, now reaching its semi-peak with Ram Temple consecration. The idea of India of freedom movement got manifested in the values of Bhagat Singh, Ambedkar and Gandhi focusing on Liberty Equality and Fraternity or friendship. Despite few differences with the father of Nation, Subhash Chandra Bose was also firmly committed to this “idea of India’. The elite landlord and Manusmiriti worshipping ideology was the social base of Hindu Rashtra, Hindutva. These forces and this ideology have grown stronger particularly during last four decades and are rejoicing the sectarianism becoming stronger by the day. They are also giving narrow projection of the temple consecration in contrast to what Gandhi and Vivekananda stood. The sectarian nationalists are for the further deepening of particular ‘civilizational values’ inherent in what can be called as Brahmanism inherent in Manusmriti. Those standing for doing away with the values of Manusmriti, those integrating all into the umbrella of Indian-ness, those who have stood together cutting across class, caste and gender are currently under different types of intimidations of Hindu India, the parallel and opposite of Muslim Pakistan are emerging. The only ray of hope for ‘idea of India’ is the same classes of society who ushered in the Idea of India during freedom movement to come together. It is their collective movement; the overarching effort to undermine the forces which gloat over the birth based hierarchical values in the name of religion, those who uphold the Holy Scriptures in contrast to the Indian Constitution. Their movements have been scattered. Their group interests may be different but their interests in protecting the Indian Constitution and Idea of India which emerged during freedom movements does need a collective expression, cutting across the groups- party lines. Many non sectarian parties do exist today. The predecessors of many of these had fought the British colonial powers together despite their differences. It is time that the social and political alliance of these sections of society given primacy. As colonial rule was detrimental to the interests of large sections of society, similarly those in power ruling through polarization are also out to undermine the rights of weaker sections of society. This is abundantly clear during the last ten years or so. Hysteria cannot be combated by hysteria. We need the ideology which binds the weaker sections of society, the Dalits, religious minorities, women, workers and Adivasis. They have many common values to protect and that is the ‘Idea of India’ which came with freedom movement. Can Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra be the first step in building such a common platform, can the Yatra succeed in doing this is the question baying us all? ------ Ram Puniyani is president, Centre of Study of Society and Secularism and has written several books including Communal Politics: Facts Versus Myths (Sage, 2003), Deconstructing Terrorist Violence (Sage 2015), Indian Nationalism versus Hindu Nationalism (Pharos 2014) and Caste and Communalism (Olive 2013). 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