Thursday, March 28, 2024

Unmasking Toxic Religiosity: Recognizing its Connection to Toxic Masculinity

By Adis Duderija, New Age Islam 28 March 2024 Toxic masculinity has gained significant attention in recent years, shedding light on harmful social norms and expectations placed on men. However, it is crucial to recognize that toxic masculinity is not an isolated phenomenon but often intertwined with toxic religiosity and patriarchy. Toxic religiosity perpetuates harmful beliefs and practices, reinforcing traditional gender roles and exacerbating the negative effects of toxic masculinity within religious contexts. By acknowledging and addressing the connection between toxic masculinity and toxic religiosity, we can foster healthier religious environments and promote gender equality. Toxic religiosity refers to the use of religion to justify and perpetuate harmful behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs, particularly those related to gender roles and dynamics. It manifests in various religious traditions and can be found in conservative interpretations that prioritize strict adherence to traditional gender norms. Toxic religiosity often imposes rigid expectations on individuals, reinforcing patriarchal power structures and perpetuating discrimination against women and gender minorities. Toxic masculinity and toxic religiosity are deeply interconnected, with one reinforcing the other. Toxic masculinity encourages the dominance of men and the suppression of emotions, promoting aggression, sexual objectification, and control as desirable traits. Similarly, toxic religiosity often fosters gender hierarchies, where men are seen as the spiritual leaders and women as subordinate, limiting their agency and autonomy. Toxic religiosity provides a fertile ground for toxic masculinity to flourish, as religious teachings and practices can be interpreted to validate and perpetuate harmful gender dynamics. The impact of toxic religiosity on individuals and communities is far-reaching. Women and gender minorities bear the brunt of this toxic combination, facing discrimination, limited opportunities, and even violence within religious spaces. Toxic religiosity can also contribute to the marginalization of LGBTQ+ individuals, reinforcing homophobia and transphobia. Moreover, men are affected by toxic religiosity as it places an immense burden on them to conform to rigid masculine expectations, leaving little room for vulnerability and emotional expression. Challenging Toxic Religiosity Recognizing toxic religiosity is the first step toward addressing its harmful effects. Religious communities must engage in critical self-reflection and acknowledge the ways in which toxic religiosity perpetuates inequality and discrimination. This involves re-examining religious texts and interpretations to promote inclusive and egalitarian principles. Religious leaders must actively challenge gender-based stereotypes and promote healthy expressions of masculinity that reject violence, control, and dominance. Education plays a crucial role in challenging toxic religiosity. Religious institutions should provide comprehensive and inclusive teachings that promote gender equality, respect diversity, and reject harmful gender norms. Open and honest dialogue within religious communities is essential for breaking down the barriers that perpetuate toxic religiosity. By fostering conversations about gender, power, and equality, religious communities can create spaces where individuals can question harmful beliefs and challenge oppressive practices. Addressing toxic religiosity requires collaboration between religious communities, civil society organizations, and policymakers. Advocacy efforts should focus on promoting gender equality within religious spaces, advocating for women's leadership and participation, and ensuring the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Engaging religious leaders as allies in the fight against toxic religiosity can be a powerful catalyst for change. Recognizing toxic religiosity as an integral part of toxic masculinity is crucial for building healthier religious communities and promoting gender equality. By challenging harmful gender norms and fostering inclusive religious practices, we can create spaces where individuals can express their faith without perpetuating discrimination or harm. Embracing a more progressive and inclusive interpretation of religious teachings will not only benefit individuals but also contribute to the overall well-being of our societies. It is time to unmask toxic religiosity, dismantle harmful gender dynamics, and foster religious spaces that celebrate diversity and equality. ----- 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 Honora 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

A Season Of Sycophants; Beware of Them

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 28 March 2024 Sardi Ho, Garmi Ho, Sookha Pade, Barsaat Ho Ya Ho Kadi Dhoop Chamche Woh Keede Hain Jo Har Mausam Mein Rahte Hain Zinda Latif Banarasi (Whether it's winter, summer, drought, rains or scalding heat/ Sycophants are the insects who survive in all seasons) Now when the General elections are on the anvil, sycophants, like the frogs in monsoon, are croaking and extolling their leaders and masters 24X7. They have elevated our 'dynamic' PM to the level of god/s and a world leader! Though outright cringeworthy, sycophants with their sycophancy have existed in all ages and eras. "Sycophancy is embedded in human nature. But only the inferior of us indulge in it for some kind of footing," observed Edmund Burke. While preparing the first formal dictionary of English language, the great lexicographer Dr Samuel Johnson was so baffled by the deluge of words for this particular human trait that it's said, he deliberately omitted a number of synonyms for sycophancy. 'Chatukarita', 'Chamchagiri' are a few words used in Hindi and other Indian languages. The point is: Who're the sycophants and who encourages them? Burke opined that sycophants are inferior people, who're always on the lookout for some sort of footing for survival. And those who encourage them and love to be hemmed in by a battery of toadies are the people who're forever in need of getting their over bloated ego caressed. Though sycophants are everywhere and in all walks of life, you'll mostly find them in politics and showbiz, because politicians as well as almost all stars in the showbiz just cannot survive if they don't get the constant 'service' of their 'loyal' flatterers. Sycophants are very intelligent people. They trade upon a universal human weakness: desire to be praised. There has never been a single human being in the entire history of mankind, who hasn't felt good after getting admired. You praise a person and have your work done. There's a beautiful Hindi term for it, 'Thakursuhati ' (Do what the master likes). Eulogy, whether sincere or insincere, never fails to hit the nail on the head. In fact, all lovers are no less than 'seasoned' sycophants. During courtship, all men lie without any prick of conscience and a sense of compunction. "Men to lie and women to believe,'' aptly observed the legendary poet-playboy Lord Byron. But the worst and cringing type of sycophancy is seen in the corridors of power where sycophants thrive, thanks to their political masters' willingness. But the politicians and stars don't understand that the sycophants are like rats that disappear the moment the ship starts sinking. Where have Rajesh Khanna's apple-polishers gone? There was a time when the superstar was so intoxicated by his dizzying success that some of his sycophants would listen to the story of a film as the star found story-narration sessions to be infra-dig! Sycophants can bring an empire down. Kautilya warned all kings of sycophants and their subtle designs. He even categorised them. Sycophants prosper by ingratiating with their masters and live like parasites. "Only a person who has absolutely no self-respect can survive on full-time sycophancy," observed Lt. General T B Henderson Brooks and Brigadier (later Lt. General) Premindra Singh Bhagat while vivisecting the 1962 debacle, when the Chinese vanquished Indian Army. Though their report was never published, it's clear that Nehru was never apprised of the real situation as he was surrounded by those who would curry favour and continuously misguide him. Seneca had to die because he dared to advise emperor Nero to keep the flatterers away. " They blinker your vision and tinker with your reason," said Alexander Pope about sycophants. Beware of them. ---- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Interfaith Dialogue and Quranic Interpretation for Harmony in India

By Dr Uzma Khatoon, New Age Islam 27 March 2024 Introduction This article delves into the importance of interreligious dialogue in Islam, examining the Qur’an, Sunnah, and the practices of early Muslim leaders like Umar. It underscores Islam’s advocacy for dialogue, justice, and religious freedom to foster peaceful coexistence among diverse faiths. Through a comprehensive analysis, it aims to identify root causes of conflicts and propose reconciliation strategies. Interfaith harmony offers hope in today’s tumultuous world, promoting acceptance and peace, especially in diverse nations like India. Embracing diversity and nuanced Quranic interpretation can lead to a more inclusive society based on mutual understanding. ----- Islam's Interfaith Approach The term "dialogue" originates from the Greek "dialogos," combining "dia" meaning "through" and "logos" meaning "word," signifying communication "through word." It involves conversation and consultation among individuals or groups to share knowledge and achieve mutual benefits. Unlike debate, which aims to win, dialogue focuses on understanding the other party, promoting mutual understanding and cooperation, especially in interreligious contexts. Islam recognizes and embraces diversity as part of Allah's divine plan for humanity's greater good, promoting peace, harmony, and mutual respect among individuals of different faiths. Islam, recognizing the inherent diversity in the world, asserts that this diversity is part of Allah's divine plan for the greater benefit of humankind. The Quran acknowledges this diversity, stating: "If God willed, He would make you one community" (Al-Qur’an 5: 48). Muslims are urged to coexist with those who do not share their religious beliefs in love, cooperation, and mutual understanding. Central to Islam is the promotion of peace and harmony, exemplified by the Muslim greeting "Assalam u Alaikum" (peace be upon you) (Tirmidhi, 1998, p. 349), and the Prophet Muhammad being described as "mercy for the entire world" (Al-Qur’an 21: 107). Islam underscores the legitimacy of all divine revelations and prophets, advocating faith in all the prophets as a fundamental belief (Al-Qur’an 4: 136; 4: 164). It views itself as the continuation of previously revealed religions, acknowledging all previous prophets, including Noah and Abraham, as prophets of Islam (Al-Qur’an 10: 72; 3: 67). The inclusiveness of Islam is further evident in its recognition of the rights and dignity of people of other faiths. The Prophet Muhammad's actions exemplify this inclusivity, as he demonstrated compassion towards people of different faiths and refrained from imposing Islamic laws on non-Muslims in Madinah (Tirmidhi, 1975, p. 328). Islam advocates for interreligious dialogue as a means to promote understanding, acceptance, and cooperation among people of diverse religious backgrounds. Through dialogue, Muslims strive to uphold the principles of peace, harmony, and mutual respect, in accordance with the teachings of the Quran and the practices of the Prophet Muhammad. How Modern Quranic Interpretation Promote Harmony In India In the diverse and dynamic landscape of India, the need for a modern Quranic interpretation is paramount. India stands as a melting pot of cultures, religions, and identities, where pluralism and diversity are not just cherished values but the very essence of its identity. However, amidst this rich tapestry of diversity, there exist challenges and tensions that threaten social harmony and unity. Here I will explain to you with two examples how Modern Quranic Interpretation will bring harmony in the country. Promoting Inclusivity and Unity in the Ummah In India, our diversity is our strength, but sometimes it's hard to keep everyone united. A modern way of understanding the Quran, our holy book, can help bring us together. By focusing on the things, we all have in common and the teachings of the Quran that encourage unity and respect for everyone, we can build a stronger sense of togetherness as a nation. Identity politics, where people focus on what makes them different, can cause problems and make things worse. But if we look at the Quran in a new way, we can see that it teaches us to treat everyone with kindness and respect, no matter what religion they follow. This can help us all feel more connected as part of one big Indian family. The Quran also reminds us that we all come from the same place and are all equal in the eyes of God. It says that we were all created from the same soul and that we should treat each other like brothers and sisters. So, by understanding and following these teachings, we can build a more peaceful and united society for everyone in India. Quran says: "He created you (all) from a single person: then created, of like nature, his mate; and he sent down for you eight head of cattle in pairs: He makes you, in the wombs of your mothers, in stages, one after another, in three veils of darkness. such is Allah, your Lord and Cherisher: to Him belongs (all) dominion. There is no god but He: then how are ye turned away (from your true Centre)?" (Quran 39:6) The Quran talks a lot about the "Ummah," which means a group of people who share the same religious beliefs. It started as a community led by a prophet and later included all followers of Islam. The idea of Ummah grew over time, spreading to different places through conquests and being led by leaders called caliphs. This shaped how Islamic communities were governed and managed. Prophet Muhammad brought together early Muslims by teaching them about Islam. The Constitution of Medina strengthened this unity by focusing on religious connections rather than family ties. It welcomed Jewish tribes into the community, showing how important inclusion was. Anyone who recognized Muhammad as their leader could be part of the Ummah, regardless of their religion. The Ummah was diverse, including people from different ethnicities, genders, and social backgrounds. An Ummah is, therefore, a religious community that was not initially limited to Islam but referred to ethnic groups such as the Jewish, Islamic, or Christian people who were guided by a prophet. Muhammad encouraged inclusion by creating a system of brotherhood and sisterhood based on Islamic principles. Today, globalization has changed how we see the Ummah. Better communication between Muslims worldwide has made the Ummah stronger. But globalization also brings new cultural influences that might challenge Islamic values. Technology has also changed how we understand and practice the Ummah, giving us new ways to connect and learn about our religion. To understand the Ummah in the modern world, we need to think about how it adapts to change and deal with the challenges of staying united in the 21st century.A modern way of understanding the Quran aims to bring people in a country together by making them feel like they belong. By focusing on the Quran’s teachings about unity, cooperation, and respecting each other, this approach can help build a strong and inclusive nation where our differences are seen as strengths, not reasons to separate us. Countering Extremism and Radicalism: In recent years, India has witnessed instances of religious extremism and radicalization, which pose a threat to its secular fabric and social harmony. These terrorist groups, like Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, Boko Haram, and ISIS, believe in violent methods to establish their version of Islam. They use the Quran to justify their actions, even though they twist its teachings. They carry out attacks that harm innocent people, claiming they’re fighting for Islam. But in reality, they’re causing chaos and suffering. A modern nationalist Quranic interpretation can serve as a potent antidote to extremist ideologies by promoting a message of tolerance, moderation, and coexistence The Quran strongly opposes terrorism and extremism. It condemns these actions as spreading mischief and disorder. The Quran even prescribes harsh punishments for extremists, such as death or banishment. Despite this, these extremists continue their violent acts, targeting innocent civilians. They misuse Quranic verses about war to justify their actions, but they can’t explain why they hide and attack fellow Muslims, including children. The Islamic perspective on jihad and the formation of groups (Jamaats) for collective action. It asserts that according to Islam, only the state has the authority to declare and conduct physical warfare (jihad) and establish Islamic laws. Non-state actors forming parties for such purposes are forbidden. The Quranic verse cited defines the scope of a Jamaat for peaceful invitation to good and guiding people, emphasizing peaceful means. such ideologies can lead individuals to justify violence, including suicide bombings, as martyrdom, but ultimately resort to hypocrisy when faced with reality to protect their own interests. The Quran unequivocally condemns terrorism and extremism, equating them with the concept of mischief (Fasad). It highlights how modern terrorist organizations engage in bloodshed while claiming to pursue societal reform, despite invoking Quranic references to appear pious. The Quran prescribes severe punishments, including death, amputation, or banishment, for extremists. These extremists, banished to remote areas, launch attacks on innocent civilians. They justify their actions by misinterpreting wartime verses, likening themselves to the Muslims of the Prophet's era. However, they fail to explain why they live in hiding and target fellow Muslims, including children, if they claim to act in the interest of Islam. The fact is that they are the mischief-makers mentioned in the Quran. The Quran has made it clear that Allah does not like mischief-makers and killers of innocent people or perpetrators of injustice. "He does not like the transgressors":(Al Araf:55) "And do not kill one another. Indeed, Allah is to you merciful. And whoever does that in aggression and injustice then we will drive them into a Fire."(Al Nisa:29-30) "If two groups of the believers fight each other, seek reconciliation between them. And if one of them commits aggression against the other fight the one that commits aggression until it comes back to Allah's command."(Al Hujurat:9) Conclusion Interfaith dialogue helps people from different religions talk, understand each other, and work together. This is important in countries like India where many religions live together. Lately, there have been some problems between religions, showing the need for talking more and understanding each other's religious texts, like the Quran. India needs to focus on interfaith dialogue and understanding religious texts better. This will help make society more peaceful and inclusive, where people of different religions can live together respectfully ------ Dr. Uzma Khatoon is a PhD from Department of Islamic Studies, Aligarh Muslim University and taught there between 2017-18. 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

Moscow Terror Attack: ISIS, Anglo-Saxons, Or Ukraine?

By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam 27 March 2024 Whatever The Hidden Forces Behind ISIS, Muslims—Especially Scholars And Intellectuals—Must Repeatedly Refute Its Misleading Claims About Their Islamic Roots And Condemn Acts Of Terrorism. Main Points: 1. ISIS claimed responsibility for the Moscow terrorist attack, condemned by Western and Arabian countries. 2. Russian officials, including Dmitry Medvedev and Alexander Nazarov, are sceptical and suspect the West's involvement. 3. Ex-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called ISIS' statement fake and said: ISIS is not responsible for this terrorist attack. 4. Al-Sheikh Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, head of Al-Azhar University, argues that ISIS is a Zionist front organization and a criminal organization within the Islamic faith. 5. On January 22, 2016, Sheikh Kalbani, former Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, criticized Salafism and terrorism, claiming ISIS shares the same Salafist methodology as Saudi Arabia. 6. Alexander Nazarov argues that the CIA formed Al-Qaeda, and Israel and the US armed and supported ISIS as a rival of the Syrian government. 7. Anti-Muslim elements have found the opportunity to speak against Islam after the Moscow attack, demonstrating their prejudice by criticising Islam and voicing hostility against Muslims. 8. Whatever the hidden forces behind ISIS, Muslims—especially scholars and intellectuals—must repeatedly refute its misleading claims about their Islamic roots and condemn acts of terrorism. ----- The Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on a Moscow concert hall, targeting a large gathering in Moscow's suburbs and returning safely. Many nations, including Germany, the United Nations, the European Union, France, Spain, Italy, and the Arab countries, have denounced the attack. The US presidential office claimed that the horrifying incident had nothing to do with the situation in Ukraine. Ukraine denies involvement in the recent attack. Its secret services claim it is a sign of Russian aggression, with Moscow's Special Forces behind it. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warns that Ukraine's high officials will be found and destroyed like terrorists if they are involved. The pro-Ukrainian militia organisation Freedom of Russia Legion, which attacked Moscow forces on the Russian border, has likewise denied any role in the incident. ISIS claimed in a Telegram statement that its members attacked a large gathering on the outskirts of the Russian capital, Moscow. However, the Deputy Head of the Russian National Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, called ISIS' statement fake and said that ISIS is not responsible for this terrorist attack. In this context, the American assertion that a terrorist attack in Moscow would soon happen was questioned during the news conference by White House spokesperson John Kirby. On March 8, the US Embassy in Moscow sent out a warning to its citizens to avoid public gatherings for the next 48 hours, "including concert venues." A White House spokesman said at a press conference that the statement from the US embassy had nothing to do with Friday's attack. Senior Russian officials appear to be doubtful about the West's role in the Moscow terror attack. There would be no difference between those who carried out this act and those who were behind it, according to Medvedev, who also hinted that Ukraine might have been involved. ------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: ISIS Bloodbath In Moscow Again Reminds Muslims Of Their Wrong Understanding Of Terrorist Organisations ------------------------------------------------------------- ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, which was condemned by Western and Arabian countries. However, senior Russian officials, including Dmitry Medvedev, are sceptical about ISIS's role and suspect the West's involvement. Russian writers have published articles in this regard, including one by Alexander Nazarov, a Kazakh-born Russian statesman, on RT Arabic, formerly known as Rusiya Al-Yaum, a Russian state-owned free-to-air television news channel based in Moscow. I translated his article from Arabic to the following: Moscow Terror Attack: ISIS, Anglo-Saxons, Or Ukraine? By Alexander Nazarov, Tr. New Age Islam There are plenty of "coincidences" in the situation surrounding this terrorist attack; therefore, there is no need to search for complex explanations when there are straightforward explanations. On March 7, the US Embassy in Moscow issued a warning to its American citizens about the possibility of a terrorist attack against “large gatherings of people in Moscow, including concerts.” Following the terrorist attack, the Anglo-Saxon media reported more quickly than usual that the perpetrator was the Afghan branch of the "Islamic State" organisation, which had never before carried out any operations against Russia. In this regard, the 2016 scandal came to mind when it emerged that the Pentagon, with the help of the British public relations company Bell Pottinger, spent $500 million to fabricate fake videos depicting terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda. Condemning the terrorist attack and blaming ISIS is nothing more than a camouflage designed to conceal the true state of affairs. However, I would not be shocked if ISIS was really employed to plot a terrorist attack, considering the well-known fact that the CIA formed Al-Qaeda and that Israel and the US armed and supported ISIS as a rival of the Syrian government. ISIS and the Ukrainian government are equal tools in Washington's hands, and involvement in one does not exclude involvement in the other. This terrorist attack can be interpreted, if chosen, as a part of the struggle for Central Asia. Employing Tajik enforcers would incite a wave of anti-Tajik sentiment among Russians, causing the Russian government to retaliate and further deteriorate relations between Russia and the Central Asian nations. That being said, when it comes to state terrorism, the perpetrators are not the most significant problem. Naturally, in this context, one cannot help but recall the bombings of the Nord Stream pipeline and the Crimean Bridge. These were the terrorist attacks directly carried out by the Anglo-Saxons. The Crimean Bridge attack even involved the use of Ukrainian land. The United States and Britain have selected terrorism as one of the primary methods of fighting Russia since the first day of the war in Ukraine. According to the Ukrainians themselves, the Anglo-Saxons are involved, directly or indirectly, in 90% of Ukraine's operations against Russia. Of course, this also applies to terrorist attacks launched by the Ukrainian military intelligence agency. We might say that the two countries in the world—Ukraine and Britain—are founded on the imperative that every chance must be exploited to do as much damage to Russia as possible. -------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: ISIS Attack In Moscow: Death's Dance Macabre In Islam's Holiest Month! -------------------------------------------------------- There is, nevertheless, a rational explanation that makes perfect sense: Kirill Budanov, the head of military intelligence for Ukraine, has often declared his intention to "take the war to Russian territory." Given the limited capabilities of military intelligence, it is not surprising that Budanov has mostly used terrorist tactics, killing journalists and prominent Russian figures, such as the daughter of philosopher and thinker Alexander Dugin; sabotaging and endangering public security by, among other things, coming into contact with youngsters on Russian soil and instructing them to turn on gas, burn military registration and conscription offices, or damage railway transformers. Budanov has publicly admitted that he was involved in the killings and attempted killings of well-known Russian nationalists. Even phone scammers, who attempt to obtain the credit card data of elderly people in an attempt to steal their money, claim that their calls originate from Ukraine and are supported by Ukrainian military intelligence. But Budanov immediately took his terrorist activities to new heights, both before and after the Russian presidential elections. Maintaining a practically normal life and keeping Russian society largely unharmed has been one of the biggest achievements of Putin in the war. Consequently, the current main objective of Kyiv, London, and Washington is to undermine Russian public order and stir up public anger over the "inability of the authorities to protect them." This is why the West has supplied Ukraine with long-range weapons, which it is presently employing to assault several Russian border cities, including the residential neighbourhoods of Belgorod. However, this doesn't have the desired impact; instead, a greater degree of terror is required. This is precisely the reason why the terrible terrorist tragedy in Moscow became significant and crucial for Kyiv, London, and Washington. The level of coordination in the terrorist attack indicates that it was expertly planned, much like prior attacks against Russia. Although the details are yet unknown, I believe the most likely scenario is that Ukraine is the organiser, possibly with assistance from the "Islamic State" group, and that everything is being done on orders from the United States and possibly the United Kingdom. Ukraine may be living in its final months, while the West is heading towards an escalation of extremism in its methods of conflict. There are similarities between this terrorist act and Macron's plan to send soldiers to Ukraine. If the West is unsuccessful in using all of its tools—from ISIS to Ukraine—it will be left with no choice but to engage in direct combat with Russia. The article expresses only the opinion of the newspaper or writer. قناة روسيا اليوم الهجوم الإرهابي في موسكو: تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية و/أو أوكرانيا و/أو الأنغلوساكسون؟ Source: Translated from Arabic by Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi (End of Article) ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, condemned by Western and Arabian countries. However, Russian officials, including Dmitry Medvedev and Alexander Nazarov, are sceptical and suspect the West's involvement. The controversial comments have left us guessing as to who exactly carried out the terror attack in Moscow. It is also worth mentioning what Al-Sheikh Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the head of Al-Azhar University, the largest Islamic university in Egypt, said a few years ago. Here is my summary of what he said: He said that the Islamic State (ISIS) organisation, which is active in Syria and Iraq, is a Zionist front organisation and a criminal organisation within the Islamic faith. Sheikh Al-Azhar stated that ISIS is a Zionist tool used against Islam and has nothing to do with Islam at a meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal. These individuals have caused Islam to be discredited and Muslims to be mocked globally. It should be mentioned that Al-Azhar University is regarded as the most trustworthy and representative of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jamaat institution globally. Al-Azhar Jamia's firm position against ISIS illustrates how the Islamic State is unrelated to the Sunni community. -------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: ISIS Bloodbath In Moscow Again Reminds Muslims Of Their Wrong Understanding Of Terrorist Organisations -------------------------------------------------------------- Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb continued, "The saddest thing is that these enemies of Islam are using the name of Islam to make fun of it throughout the world. In my opinion, these individuals are outright terrorists, having been manufactured by Zionist colonial powers with malevolent intent. The war crimes these individuals are waging against mankind under the guise of an Islamic state and caliphate have nothing to do with Islam, which is a religion of mercy. ISIS and its killing of innocent people are the centre of attention for the Western world right now. Additionally, the West views ISIS as a representative of Islam. ISIS is spreading the false belief that Islam is a violent faith that has no compassion or respect for human decency.” He further said, “The work of this terror organization has done much to damage the moderate image of Islam around the world. ISIS is working as a weapon in the hands of the Zionist colonialist forces, not to re-establish the Islamic Caliphate but rather to disperse the Arab countries and the Nation of Islam.” Alexander Nazarov argues that “the CIA formed Al-Qaeda, and Israel and the US armed and supported ISIS as a rival of the Syrian government." Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb states that “ISIS was manufactured by Zionist colonial powers for malevolent intent.” These two assertions have been made in two distinct contexts. It is also important to consider who is providing ISIS with weapons and financing. The findings indicate that Muslims are the group most vulnerable to ISIS. ISIS has harmed Syria, Iraq, and Muslim lives worldwide, but most significantly, it has tarnished the image of Islam. Muslims all throughout the world continue to be extremely concerned about ISIS and other radical groups, who are purportedly the agents of secret powers. On January 22, 2016, Sheikh Kalbani triumphantly announced on MBC-TV in Dubai that ISIS (Daesh) shares the same essential principles as he and his fellow Muslims. While denouncing Salafism, Sheikh Kalbani, a well-known preacher from the same sect and former Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, remarked that terrorism is, of course, a product of Salafism, also known as Wahhabism. During an interview, he explained how terrorism is an offspring of Salafism, adding that Daesh follows the same Salafist methodology as Saudi Arabia, with only minor variances in how those who violate the Sharia are punished. There have been serious concerns and multiple opinions about ISIS. The latest terrorist assault in Moscow has sparked our worries once more because, in addition to our sorrow for the civilian casualties, we are worried about ISIS's attempt to discredit Islam, Muslims, and the notion that "Islamic teachings inspire everything it does." Following the terrorist attack in Moscow, certain anti-Islamic elements seem to have found the ideal opportunity to speak against Islam in this troubling affair. This is nothing new; rather, it is the standard mindset of these anti-Muslim people, who go to great lengths to demonstrate their prejudice by criticising Islam and voicing their hostility against Muslims. Muslims don't have to take them seriously. It is imperative that Muslims, particularly scholars and intellectuals, continuously refute ISIS's false allegations about their ties to Islam and denounce acts of terrorism. It is important to remember that ISIS uses Islamic sources for its evil intentions. Because of this, even though we have denied their claims numerous times in the past, we must do so again and again. ------ A regular Columnist with, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is a Classical Islamic scholar with a Sufi background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator. 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

Neurologically Born Agains Are The New Hopes For Mankind

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 27 March 2024 “Religion is the most powerful entity on earth. A phenomenon that has conscripted millions to give or sacrifice their lives without so much as a minuscule query about their chosen beliefs or particular ideology. And today thousands of years on despite the huge advent, discovery and the advance of science forensic or otherwise, millions are still prepared and equipped to fall or kill in the name of their God, their Holy Scriptures, their messengers, their prophets and their faith’.” ― Cal Sarwar So very true! While interacting with an ex-Muslim friend from Riyadh, who's now comfortably settled in Adelaide, Australia, he told me the same thing when he was a staunch believer and defended his faith (read, Islam) tooth and nail. He felt that it was his religious duty to kill anyone who dared to insult his faith, book and the messenger. But when he lost his faith in Islam along with all man-made religions and their gods, he heaved a sigh of relief and wondered what made him think so violently, irrationally and idiotically when he followed a faith. Once he got rid of all religions and supernatural phenomena and removed the albatross of Islam around his neck, he could see and think clearly without the turbidity of religious beliefs that has plagued and obfuscated the human mind for aeons. Now modern neuro-science calls it Born Again from neurological point of view without any religious hue because Born Again is originally a theological concept esp. in Christianity and Hinduism (the word Dwij for a Brahmin is a born again Brahmin Hindu after going through the ceremony of thread investiture, Yagyopaveet Sanskaar or Upnayan). World's celebrated atheist and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett believes that these Neurologically Born Agains can educate the rest of the religious populace of the world and make the (blind) believers see through the superstitions, shenanigans, stupidity and futility of all man-made faiths and gods. Neurologically born agains are better equipped than born atheists because these born agains have seen and experienced the pitfalls of all faiths. Somalia-born and now a citizen of Holland, Ayan Hirsi Ali says that she can rationally and more logically condemn Islam and all faiths because she was once a part of Islam and even wanted to kill Salman Rushdie for his blasphemous book 'The Satanic Verses' which pillories Muhammad. She was (religiously) insane at that time and now when she has no faith in Islam, she can look back and analyse her fanaticism caused by a faith that has the potential to de-rationalize you. Mankind needs more and more such neurologically born agains who can spread the message of godless and religion-less, non-spiritual love, having seen the execrable sides to all faiths, Remember, humans are capable of loving each other without bothering about a bagful of faiths, doctrines, sects, dogmas, ideologies and gods. We need to understand this to make the earth a much more desirable place to live in. Are you ready to even ponder it? ---- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URl: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

South Asian Muslims Lose Their Heads Over Anti-Blasphemy Beliefs: Does Islam Permit Them To Take Law Into Their Hands Over Actual Or Imaginary Acts Of Blasphemy?

By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam 26 March 2024 Blasphemy Law Misuse Should Be Addressed Globally With a Unified Solution to Prevent Injustice Main Points: 1. In March 2022, three seminary students killed a madrassa teacher in Anjumabad, Pakistan, after a relative had a dream that the teacher committed blasphemy. 2. The slogan "Gustakh-e-Nabi Ki Aik Saza Sar Tan Se Juda" is often used in religious gatherings and programs against blasphemy cases. 3. The question remains: who bears the leading responsibility for the misuse of blasphemy? 4. Blasphemy is a serious issue, causing riots and damaging social or national atmospheres. 5. Islam forbids Muslims from inciting anyone’s religious sentiment or abusing anyone’s religion, as it aims to prevent disorder and corruption. 6. The misuse of blasphemy law has resulted in numerous lives being destroyed, with incidents like the murder of Madrasa teacher Safoora Bibi leading to severe sentences. 7. The issue of blasphemy law misuse should be addressed globally, with a unified solution to prevent similar occurrences. ------- The blasphemy law is regularly abused and weaponized in Pakistan. However, an unexpected incident that stunned both religious and non-religious societies surfaced in March 2022. Three female seminary students slashed the throat of their madrassa teacher in the Anjumabad neighbourhood of Dera Ismail Khan. Having investigated the incident, District Police Officer Dera Ismail Khan stated that the preliminary examination of these women revealed that one of their relatives had dreamed that the deceased had committed blasphemy, and that is why they killed her. After the case dragged on for almost two years, the local court convicted the three seminary students guilty of killing Safoora Bibi by falsely accusing her of blasphemy. A few days ago, the court sentenced two of them to death and gave the third life imprisonment. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Also Read: Blasphemy, Islam and Free Speech ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ The legislation of blasphemy in Pakistan has been controversial ever since General Zia-ul-Haq's administration proposed constitutional revisions. In a number of documented incidents, blasphemy has been falsely alleged but not proven; instead, lawbreakers have taken control of the situation and killed the accused with brutality. Blasphemy allegations are frequently made for a variety of reasons, including religious intolerance, personal disputes, and sectarian disagreements. According to news reports, the frequency of cases involving accusations of blasphemy has reportedly skyrocketed since Sections 295-B and 295-C were added to Pakistan's blasphemy legislation in 1987. In Pakistan, 1,534 people were accused of blasphemy between 1987 and 2017, of whom 829, or 54%, were against members of religious minorities. Although Christians account for only 1.6% of Pakistan's total population, 238 charges—or 15.5%—were lodged against them. Apart from members of minority religions, several religious individuals and clerics have also been killed on the pretext of blasphemy. At a PTI rally in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, Maulana Nigar Alam, 40, was beaten to death by angry attendees who accused him of blasphemy. Maulana Nigar Alam was slain because, according to reports, many people believed his statements to be blasphemous and took offence at some phrases he had used in his prayer. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Udaipur Beheading: Educated Muslims Say Not In My Name --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Murder Of A Madrasa Teacher On Charges Of Blasphemy Safoora Bibi, a 19-year-old madrasa teacher, was killed on March 29, 2022, in the Anjumabad neighbourhood of Dera Ismail Khan, next to Jamia Islamia Falah al-Banaat Madrasa, on suspicion of blasphemy. Following the event, the police apprehended Razia Hanfi, Ayesha Naumani, and Umra Aman, and they filed a complaint based on the information the villagers had given. The victim allegedly died instantly when the assailant women slashed her throat with a sharp knife. After learning of the traumatic event, the deceased's uncle raced to the madrasa, where he discovered his niece dead and lying in a pool of blood next to the gate. Her throat had been slashed. According to the complaint, he learned that when his niece arrived at the seminary in a rickshaw, as was customary, some ladies were there waiting in the seminary uniform to attack her and sever her throat with a sharp object. Two of the women who were involved in the murder are sisters, while the third lady is a cousin, according to the police. One of the ladies informed the police that her young niece had been instructed to "kill that Madrasa teacher" in a dream. A representative of Jamia Islamia Falah Al-Banaat named Shafiullah told the media after the Madrasa teacher was killed that one of the female assailants had previously charged his Madrasa with blasphemy, accusing the teachers of having taught the wrong lesson. However, he did note that this woman had also later expressed regret for it. Shafiullah continued, saying that Safoora Bibi had been teaching in our madrasa for the past two years. She was a well-mannered and nice young lady. She never made any blasphemous remarks regarding the Islamic prophet. The Pakistani court has legally punished the attacking women in an attempt to teach other residents a lesson from this occurrence, but there is also room for reflection. How absurd is it that someone was told to kill someone for blasphemy in a dream? In Pakistan, the misuse of blasphemy is not a recent issue; rather, it has become the standard. The attackers feed their egos by accusing their "enemies" of blasphemy and then murdering them, sometimes out of personal hatred, sometimes out of communal bias, and sometimes out of religious conviction. In 2020, Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi, the Prime Minister of Pakistan's Special Envoy for Religious Harmony in the Middle East, acknowledged that forced religious conversion and the abuse of religious legislation are real issues in the nation. Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi said in a special interview with Voice of America in Islamabad, “The government is preparing a report based on recent instances of crimes perpetrated in the name of religion, such as forced religious conversion and blasphemy legislation. Incidents involving religious and sectarian divisions, including the harassment and abuse of non-Muslims, are being investigated.” During the interview, he asserted that the government's actions had significantly reduced the abuse of the blasphemy law and decreased the number of fraudulent cases filed under Section 295C. However, organisations that defend religious freedom and human rights claim that there has been an increase in cases of discrimination and targeting of non-Muslims in Pakistan due to their beliefs. Why precisely is Pakistan unable to stop the misuse of blasphemy? For this failure, who bears the leading responsibility? From an Islamic perspective, cases involving false charges of blasphemy are strongly prohibited by Islam. The question then becomes, "What is the reason when Islam does not justify it?" Is ignorance the cause of all of this? It is clear that ignorance is widespread in Pakistan, and an analysis of the majority of cases reveals that some individuals consider their ignorance to be “a form of religion." Have they considered their own desires and opinions to be Islamic? Indeed, that seems to be the case. If ignorance is the issue, what steps are being taken to eradicate it? The slogan "Gustakh-e-Nabi Ki Aik Saza Sar Tan Se Juda [Translation: “One punishment for insolent of Prophet, head separate from body, head separate from body”]” is frequently used in religious gatherings and programmes held in protest against blasphemy cases, as observed on social media. According to the traditional books on Islamic law, blasphemy against any of the Prophets carries a death sentence. These writings clearly state that the ruler, Khalifa, Haakim, and the Court are the only authorities who have the right to punish convicts for any offense. There are speeches made denouncing blasphemy. However, why does the improper use of blasphemy law not receive the same strong condemnation? It is questioned why Pakistani Ulama do not react in the same manner when the blasphemy law is used improperly as they do when someone is accused of blasphemy, even if it is unclear whether they truly committed the blasphemy. Why is it not emphasised that the court is the only authority to punish someone for any crime? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: The Muslim Consciousness of Persona of Muhammad, the Messenger of God: Reflections on an Islamist Radical Beheading History Teacher Samuel Paty in Paris for Displaying Cartoons portraying the Prophet as a Suicide Bomber ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Of course, I have heard certain scholars and Ulama declare on social media that the court alone has the power to impose punishment. Since accusations of blasphemy are widely made in Pakistan, the Pakistani Ulama and influential scholars should, on a large scale, inform the public in speeches and writings about this situation. They should clarify that the false charges of blasphemy are entirely against Islam and the law of the land, and that the court has the only authority to convict or acquit, punish, or release the accused. Not every common Muslim has the right to assume the role of a judge, decide which words or statements constitute blasphemy, or use the legal system to destroy the situation of any country. One other facet of a major issue that Muslims face, one that is global in scope, is that not all of them follow religious precepts when they are taught about them. Islam, for instance, requires Muslims to offer the Namaz, or prayer; however, the majority of Muslims do not. In the same way, they disregard religious acts in other contexts. From this, one might infer something about the common behaviour of the Muslim population. Some Muslims are extremely uneducated, while others are not practical Muslims, even with an awareness of Islamic guidelines. The discussion above focused specifically on Pakistan. While Indian law does not specifically call for the death sentence for blasphemy, it does forbid insulting any religion or any authority figure. Despite the fact that blasphemy is not punishable by death in India, two Muslim youths brutally killed Kanhaiyalal, a Hindu tailor, in Udaipur, Rajasthan, in 2022, on the pretext that he had committed blasphemy. They subsequently shared a video of the act on social media. The Muslim community in India strongly condemned this painful incident and demanded that those responsible for breaking the law be held accountable. In Bangladesh, such incidents have also happened on a regular basis. There is no doubt that blasphemy is a serious problem. Whether directed at a religion, holy book, nation, country, or leader, blasphemous remarks, harsh language, or insolence are undoubtedly undesirable. Rioting is a possibility as a result. Because of this, it is forbidden in the Islamic holy book, the Holy Qur'an, to disparage the faith of non-Muslims. The reason for this is that religious individuals have deep emotional ties to their religion and religious personalities. It is a matter of faith, and insulting someone's faith or religion might damage any social or national atmosphere. For this reason, it is said that certain political figures try to dampen the religious feelings of a certain group in order to gain support from other groups. They are aware that inciting religious feelings is simple. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Is Islam Really Facing A Crisis, As French President Emmanuel Macron Said After The Beheading Of Samuel Paty ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Islam strictly prohibits Muslims from engaging in inciting anyone’s religious sentiment or abusing anyone’s religion. The holy Quran clearly says: “And insult not those whom they (disbelievers) worship besides Allah, lest they insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge” (6:108)... The prohibition of insulting other religions aims to prevent bad possible consequences in the form of disorder and corruption in the land, as these deeply associated beliefs are deeply associated with their followers. Islam forbids Muslims from engaging in such behaviour. This suggests that uttering slanderous words or committing acts of blasphemy are actually detrimental. But since the charges of blasphemy have the potential to start riots, endanger national security, or cause the death of any innocent person, Islam fiercely rejects them. This is a type of Fasad, and Fasad in general is forbidden in Islam. You can view the reports of the number of lives destroyed as a result of the blasphemy law being misused. In the instance of Madrasa teacher Safoora Bibi, who was killed on the charges of blasphemy, the court sentenced two women to death and one to life in jail. We should all take this episode as a lesson and work to create a plan of action that can totally prevent similar occurrences in the future. Muslims should think about this problem and come up with a unified solution, no matter where they may be in the world. This is important because incidents like these have the potential to spread contempt, undermine religious confidence, and give Islamophobic minds a great chance to start holding the religion directly responsible for these kinds of things. The reality is that Islam strongly forbids lying, fraud, deception, and making false accusations. ----- Related Articles: The Brutal Killing Of A Hindu In The Name Of Blasphemy In Udaipur Rajasthan Is Extremely Shameful, Reprehensible And Anti-Islamic: Muslim Organizations, Ulama And Personalities Fatwa Of Aala Hazrat In The Context Of The Udaipur Incident: Anyone Who Takes The Law Into One’s Hands By Killing For Blasphemy In A Muslim Or Non-Muslim Country Would Be Punished According To Islamic Sharia Conflicting Perspectives on Blasphemy and the Practice of Taking the Law into One's Own Hands, Which Is Illegal and Punishable Under Islamic Sharia – Part 1 Conflicting Perspectives on Blasphemy and the Practice of Taking the Law into One's Own Hands, Which Is Illegal and Punishable Under Islamic Sharia – Concluding Part 2 ----- A regular Columnist with, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is a Classical Islamic scholar with a Sufi background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator. 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

Taliban's Relegation Of Women To Home Violates Islamic Principles Of Equality And Women Empowerment

By New Age Islam Staff Writer 26 March 2024 1.4 Million Girls Of Afghanistan Were Barred From Schools For Third Consecutive Year Main Points: 1. Taliban has banned women's education beyond sixth grade. 2. Many girls have become depressed and suicidal. 3. They barred women from working in international NGOs. 1. 4.Taliban banned women boutiques and beauty salons. 4. The women have been barred from working in government and private organisations. ------ (File Photo) ----- For the third consecutive year, the Taliban have barred girls of Afghanistan from attending schools and universities. They have banned girls' education from seventh grade.1.4 million Afghan girls have been forced to abandon their studies due to the tribal mentality of Taliban's highest leadership. When they had come to power in August 2021, they had promised to honour the educational, economic and social rights of women but the more conservative lobby of Taliban became dominant in its decision making process. This led to gradual relegation of women from Afghan society to their homes. It is said that Hebatullah Akhundzada, the head of Taliban has a tribal and conservative mindset and opposes the involvement of women in social, economic and educational development of the country. During the last three years, women have been gradually removed from every walk of life. They were barred from working in government offices. Then they were removed from media outlets. They were banned from running fashion stores, boutiques and beauty salons. They were even barred from working in local and foreign NGOs as health professionals. The Taliban elaborated that the female employees of the NGOs did not wear proper hijab. This led to the ban. In June 2023, the Taliban banned music either in weddings or in funerals. They issued orders to wedding hall owners prohibiting the use of music in weddings. They argued that music played in weddings contradicted Islamic rulings. Earlier in April 2023, the Taliban shut down Afghanistan's only women run radio station called Sada-e-Banowan ( Voice of Women). The radio was started ten years ago. The Taliban said that the radio station was shut down because it played music. Station head Najia Sarosh denied having played music. Perhaps, the Taliban did not approve of even background music or jingles. A prominent Taliban leader and Interior minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, however, does not agree with the Taliban's radical ideas about women but the problem is that the Taliban leadership is dominated by conservative ideologues who follow Afghan tribal tradition which prohibits allowing girls above 12 years to go out and mix with men. This is in stark contrast with the Quran and hadiths that allow women to acquire education and work in different departments as professionals while maintaining their modesty. The Quran has already outlined principles and rules for the participation of women in business and social activities. Islam does not enforce total seclusion of women from social and political activities. The United Nations had expressed deep concern over total isolation of Afghan women by the Taliban government on International Women's Day. Roza Isakovna Otunbayeva, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said she had few comforting messages to share with Afghan women and girls on International Women’s Day, noting that, although Afghanistan needs human capital to recover from the war, half of its doctors, scientists and journalists find themselves shut as women in their homes, with their dreams crushed and talent confiscated. “We understand that the Taliban have a highly different worldview than any other Government, but it is difficult to understand how any Government worthy of the name can govern against the needs of half of its population.” Amid a catastrophic humanitarian situation, in which two thirds of Afghanistan’s population — 28 million people — need humanitarian assistance to survive, and 20 million people are experiencing crisis levels of food insecurity, necessitating funding of $4.62 billion — the single largest country appeal ever — access and security constraints, including the bans on women working in non-governmental organizations, make it difficult to reach those in desperate need. Prior to these restrictions, in 2022, the United Nations and its partners were able to reach 26.1 million people, she said, noting that the situation had compelled humanitarian workers to make uncomfortable compromises to save Afghan lives. “The absurdity of this situation requires no comment, she added. With the growing hold of Taliban on power, there is no hope of women's empowerment in the country. In August 2023, they banned political parties to throttle dissenting voices. They argued that political parties were against Islamic laws and that there was no basis for political parties in an Islamic country. To them, political parties did not serve any national interests. Two years ago, more than 70 political parties were registered in Afghanistan in anticipation of participation of political parties in the political process of the country. The secular political lobby that ruled Afghanistan for twenty years has suddenly disappeared from the political scene and there is no opposition in the country. In this situation, girls and women have no hope of returning to their social and educational workplaces. The talent that is latent in the women has been forced to be suffocated in the confines of their homes. Writers, artists, sportswomen, journalists, fashion designers, doctors, professors, teachers and aspiring professionals have been pushed behind the walls of their homes. Those who are rich manage to leave Afghanistan and settle in Europe but the majority of the women are forced to live a life of utter despair and suffer from frustration and suicidal tendencies. 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

'Soft Plagiarism': Why Do We Often Fail To Acknowledge?

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 26 March 2024 Mujhe Meri Hi Ghazal Logon Ne Sunai Aur Mujhi Se Meri Rai Bhi Maangi! Shaadaab Malsiyani (My own Ghazal was recited by others / They even sought my opinion / feedback on it!) ------ A few days ago, a dear friend of mine sent a forward on my WhatsApp account. One 'erudite' gentleman sent a snippet. When I checked, it was written by me! He shortened a recent piece of mine that appeared in TOI and circulated it among his friends without mentioning the author's name! This deliberate lack of acknowledgement saddened me as I don't get upset or angry anymore when someone forwards my article/s without mentioning my name. This is 'soft plagiarism'. When you don't acknowledge the creator or the source, you've a lurking desire to pass it off as your own. Why don't people acknowledge? People don't acknowledge because they're of the view that if they acknowledge the other person, they'll become inferior to him / her. This is an outright erroneous perception. By acknowledging someone's quality, creativity or greatness, we ennoble ourselves. It's a liberating feeling which is sort of an enlightenment. Acknowledgement paves the way for gratitude and gratitude flowers into magnanimity. Once the great Raghupati Sahay 'Firaq' Gorakhpuri stumbled upon a book of Urdu poetry at the library of Allahabad University, where he taught English Literature. The book was written by some poet from Pakistan. While flipping through the pages of the book, he cursorily read a few Ghazals. All were written the way, 'Firaq' wrote. Fortunately, 'Firaq' found the address of the poet. He wrote to him, "Aap Likhte Achchha Hain Lekin Kis Ki Tarz Par Likhte Hain Woh Nahin Likha Aapne. Ye Be-Adabi Aapko Bahut Door Tak Nahin Le Jaa Sakegi" (You write well but you didn't mention who inspired you. This misdemeanour will not help you go far). Most of us are quite parsimonious when it comes to acknowledging someone. We're phlegmatic in praise and stingy with words. Acknowledgement and humility go hand in hand. In a letter to his fellow-scientist Robert Hooke in 1675, Sir Isaac Newton wrote, " If I've seen further, it's by standing on the shoulders of giants." This is really humble on his part to say, esp. considering his remarkable achievements in the fields of science and mathematics. Even a brutally outspoken but genius poet like Mirza Asadullah Khan 'Ghalib' who said, "Hain Aur Bhi Duniya Mein Sukhanvar Bahut Achchhe / Kahte Hain Ke Ghalib Ka Hai Andaaz-e-Bayaan Aur" also said, "Rekhte Ke Tumhin Ustaad Nahin Ho 'Ghalib'/ Kahte Hain Agle Zamane Mein Koi 'Mir' Bhi Tha." Only those who're truly great, acknowledge the greatness of others wholeheartedly. But those who pretend to be great, often refrain from acknowledging others. Years ago, my Urdu teacher wrote to me, "Kisi Ki Salahiyat-O-Azmat Ko Maan-Ne Se Aap Chhote Nahin Ho Jaate, Balke Iss-Se Aap Apne Buland Kirdaar Ka Saboot Pesh Karte Hain" (By acknowledging someone's qualities and greatness, you don't demean yourself. Au contraire, you prove the loftiness of your character). I agree with my Urdu teacher in toto. ---- 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, March 23, 2024

ISIS Bloodbath In Moscow Again Reminds Muslims Of Their Wrong Understanding Of Terrorist Organisations

By New Age Islam Staff Writer 23 March 2024 115 People Were Killed By The ISIS In Its Attack On A Concert Hall In Moscow Main Points: 1. The ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. 2. A music concert was held in the Crocus City Hall of Moscow. 3. Five ISIS terrorists stormed the concert hall and opened indiscriminate firing. 4. More than one 145 persons were reported injured. ------ Russian law enforcement officers stand guard near the burning Crocus City Hall concert venue following a shooting incident outside Moscow [Maxim Shemetov/Reuters] ----- The Moscow attack by the ISIS came at a time when some important developments have taken place both in Russia and in the Middle East. Putin won the Presidential election and strengthened his grip over power and Ukraine, backed by the NATO led by the US is at the verge of defeat vis a vis Russia. Secondly, Russia along with China and Algeria voted against the Security Council Resolution urging an immediate ceasefire resolution brought by the US. Thirdly, Russia's growing influence in the Middle East and the creation of a power bloc comprising Russia, China and Iran threatens its economic and military goals in the oil rich region. The axis of this power bloc is Basharal Assad's Syria that has survived Arab Spring and Saudi-US conspiracies to topple Assad during the last ten years. One may recall Saudi Arabia's intelligence minister Bandar Bin Sultan's urgent visit to Russia and his meeting with Putin during which he had said to Putin that his country was in control of the ISIS and other terrorist organisations active in the Middle East and that if Putin continued to support and protect Syria, he would unleash them against Russia and allow them to carry out terrorist attacks in Russia to disrupt Sochi Olympics scheduled to be held in February 2014. Bandar had met Putin in December 2013 when the civil war in Syria and Iraq was raging and the US and Saudi Arabia were trying hard to destroy Syria and topple Assad. The,US had even prepared a conspiracy to attack Syria on the pretext of Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons (WMD) in the same way the US destroyed Iraq accusing it of having weapons of mass destruction. The attacks by the ISIS on a concert hall in Moscow may be seen in the same backdrop. Putin had then refused to be blackmailed by the Saudi minister and ordered his army to be on 2-minute mode and had threatened that if the US attacked Syria, Russia would attack Saudi Arabia. The twin attacks in a cemetery in Tehran in January that killed more than 100 people speaks of the desperation of the Saudis and the US over the growing power of Iran-China-Russia block with its axis in Syria. Already the ISIS is fighting on behalf of the US against the pro-Iran and pro-Syria militant groups in Iraq and Syria taking its mask totally off its face. First it attacked a mass gathering in Iran and now it attacked another mass gathering in Russia. The message is clear: Do not meddle in Arab waters. That the US issued a statement saying that the attacks in Moscow were not planned by Ukraine immediately after the attack speaks of the worries of the US. The US wants Russia to look at the attack from the point of view of the Middle East and not from the Ukrainian point of view. Perhaps, the objective of the attack waa to create an anti-Putin public opinion within Russia as it did in Iran against Putin's expansionist foreign policy especially its policy in the Middle East. Russia and China's indirect interference in Gaza has made matters worse for Israel. The stalemate in Gaza has intensified anti-Netanyahu protests in Israel and the US is now playing power tactics to save Netanyahu by brokering a ceasefire in Gaza and ensuring the release of hostages. Biden had planned a Kuwait-llike operation to rescue the hostages with the help of a Security Council Resolution that would permit his allies to use force in Gaza and rescue the hostages. Russia's veto spoiled Biden's plans. Hence the desperation. Until now, the US opposed the use of the words 'immediate ceasefire' in Security Council draft resolutions and only talked of humanitarian pauses. But yesterday it threw a bait with the proposal of immediate ceasefire to get a Security Council resolution for a military operation. The US' plea to build a temporary port on Gaza shore had already created doubt about Biden's plans. What actions Putin will take after the Moscow attacks is any body's guess but one can be sure of a heightened confrontation between the US and Russia both in Ukraine and Middle East. As for the Muslims, they should now realise that the ISIS was not an Islamic organisation out to establish a caliphate but a proxy terrorist organisation of the US and its western allies to be used for achieving its political and military goals. 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

From Pakistan To Nigeria Mob Violence To Protect The Honour Of The Prophet Defames Islam

By New Age Islam Staff Writer 23 March 2024 Two Female Madrasa Students Sentenced To Death And The Third To Life Imprisonment For Killing Their Teacher For Blasphemy In Pakistan. Main Points: 1. The three students studied in Jamia Islamia Falahul Binat in Dera Ismail Khan of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan. 2. The madrasa teacher Safoora Bibi was accused of insulting the prophet. 3. Blasphemy killings have become rampant in Pakistan. 4. Nigeria and Bangladesh are also the countries where blasphemy killings are common. 5. Extremist clerics in these countries are responsible for mob violence over the accusations of blasphemy. ----- Photo: The Dawn, Pakistan ---- A district court in Pakistan has sentenced two female madrasa students to death and the third to life imprisonment for the murder of their female madrasa teacher Safoora Bibi, 18, for allegedly committing blasphemy against the holy prophet in March 2022. The convicts are Razia Hanfi, Ayesha Naumani and Umra Aman. Reportedly, a minor girl among their relatives was told in her dream that the teacher had committed blasphemy against the prophet and that if they killed her, they would be rewarded with Paradise. Upon being told about the dream the three decided to kill Safoora Bibi for winning God's blessings. The sentence has brought to focus the rampant killings of Muslims by Muslims in the name of protecting the honour of the prophet or of the Quran or of Islam in Pakistan. According to Human Rights Watch, at least 65 people have been killed in Pakistan since 1990 for alleged blasphemy. Most of the victims are Muslims. In February this year, a woman was surrounded by an illiterate mob in Ichhra market in Lahore for wearing a shirt with the word Halwa in Arabic calligraphy printed on it. The mob accused her of blasphemy against the Quran and were bent on lynching her. Fortunately, a brave lady police officer saved her. This violent approach to blasphemy is only the result of an intolerant and extremist view on blasphemy by the prominent clerics of Pakistan and other Islamic countries. There have been dozens of cases of lynching of blasphemy accused in Pakistan. Some of the accused were mentally deranged while some were Hafiz-e-Quran and Aalim-e-Deen. The Quran says that the blasphemy accused should be dealt with restraint. The Quran does not prescribe any punishment for blasphemy though it foresees that the People of the Book and the Polytheists would use hurtful words directed towards Muslims. The Quran says: "...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, surely this is a resolve to aspire for."(Al-e-Imran:186) Hurtful words may include blasphemous remarks about the prophet, the Quran and Islam. The Quran asks Muslims to observe restraint in face of blasphemy by the followers of other religions. The Quran does not anticipate Muslims to commit blasphemy against the prophet, the Quran or other sacred and respected figures of Islam. No Muslim was punished to death for blasphemy or showing insult or disrespect to the prophet pbuh. There is one example of showing disrespect to the prophet pbuh by a Muslim but the prophet did not order any punishment for him. After one of the battles, the holy prophet pbuh was distributing the spoils of the war among the warriors. One of the Muslims accused the prophet of distributing the spoils of the war unjustly. The prophet pbuh became angry and said, 'If I do not do justice then who will?" Hadhrat Umar took out his sword and said to the prophet pbuh, "O prophet of Allah, if you permit me, I will severe his head.' The prophet pbuh replied, "Leave him as he has his companions," He suggested that killing him would create differences among Muslims. Therefore, insult to the prophet pbuh by a Muslim is out of the question and even if someone makes a remark that can be interpreted as an act of blasphemy, Islam asks Muslims to ignore it. In Pakistan, comprehensive books have been written to prove that even Muslims can be killed for blasphemy and the verses of the Quran have been presented in support of this theory. These books have provided the argument in favour of mob lynching of the accused of blasphemy. Today, blasphemy has been made a crime punishable by death thanks to extremist interpretations of the Quran by some prominent Islamic scholars of the Arab and the Indian sub-continent. Since blasphemy has not been made punishable by the Quran under 'hurtful words', the clerics have applied the verses that prescribe death punishment for causing 'Fasad'(mischief) on earth to cases of blasphemy. In Iran, blasphemy is made a punishable crime under 'Fasad Fil Arz' and criticism of the religious leaders or the government or criticism of misinterpretation of Quranic verses comes under blasphemy. A number of blasphemy cases have appeared in Iran in the last two decades. However, in Iran there is no history of mob violence or lynching as a punishment for blasphemy. In Iran, the blasphemy laws are used against those who criticise theocracy. In May 2023, two men were hanged in Iran for alleged blasphemy. In 2014, a psychologist Mohsin Amir Aslani was hanged for blasphemy. In Afghanistan too, blasphemy is a crime that can invite death and blasphemy can include even translating the Quran without the permission of the clergy .In November 2007, Ghaus Zalmay was charged with blasphemy for translating the Quran into Dari language without authorisation from the Afghan clergy. He was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment. A journalist Pervez Kambaksh was sentenced to death for writing on the mistreatment of women in Islamic society. Later his punishment was reduced to 20 years of imprisonment. However, during the tenure of President Hamid Karzai, he was granted amnesty and he chose to leave Afghanistan. The brutal mob lynching and burning of a 27 year old girl Farkhundah Malikzadeh in Kabul in March 2015 sent shock waves around the world. A mob of unruly men beat her to death, tore her clothes and burnt down her dead body for allegedly burning the Quran. In fact she had launched a campaign against the peddlers about their practice of selling charms to women as remedy for their diseases. Some one spread the rumour that she had burned the Quran. Since Afghans share their borders and religious ideology with Pakistan, they have the same approach to blasphemy as Pakistanis. Nigeria is another country where Muslims commit lynching of Muslims and Christians for alleged blasphemy. There have been a number of riots due to reports of blasphemy. In 1999, a mob beheaded a Muslim man named Abdullah Umaru for allegedly insulting the prophet. In March 2007, a Christian lady teacher was beaten to death for touching a bag that contained a copy of the Quran. The Muslims believed that by touching the bag, she defiled or desecrated the Quran. In April 2008, a mob beat a Muslim man to death in Kano state of Nigeria for allegedly insulting the prophet. Even a 13 year old boy named Umar Farouque was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment for blasphemy. Another youth Yahya Sharif was sentenced to death for circulating a song on WhatsApp allegedly defaming the prophet in 2020. Bangladesh is also one of the countries where the definition of blasphemy is quite broad and a number of men both Hindu and Muslim have been lynched during the last two decades. The reason for this is that the Muslims of Bangladesh follow the same clerics of the Arab and the Indian sub-continent. However, the Muslims of Indonesia and Malaysia do not follow a violent definition of blasphemy though the use of blasphemy is catching up with the politicians of Indonesia and Malaysia. They use the issues of alleged blasphemy for political purposes. In Saudi Arabia too, blasphemy is a tool to repress dissent. There is no history of mob lynching for blasphemy there as is rampant in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria. A couple of killing for blasphemy have also occurred in India. The killings for blasphemy occur because of the misinterpretation of the Quranic verses. To the Muslims of these countries, even touching the Quran by a Christian, translating the Quran into another language without the permission of the clergy, criticising the religious leadership and the government, criticising the mistreatment of women etc. comes under blasphemy. Therefore, the violence and bloodshed in the name of protecting the honour of the prophet and of Islam, the exegetes, preachers and extremist scholars of Islam are responsible. This trend of violence in the name of blasphemy cannot be curbed unless the mob violence of any kind is declared against Sharia and brought under 'Fasad Fil Arz' and the need for the laws dealing with blasphemy are reviewed in the light of the Quran. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

The Theory Of Evolution And Creation Are Poles Asunder

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 23 March 2024 (7:172) When thy Lord drew forth from the Children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves, (saying): "Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)?"- They said: "Yea! We do testify!" (This), lest ye should say on the Day of Judgment: "Of this we were never mindful": The above verse is metaphorically saying that belief in Allah as the Sustainer is genetically transmitted through the sperm of the father. Because of such self-glorifying verses and their equally over the moon interpretations, more and more Muslims are leaving Islam and introducing themselves as ex-Muslims. The very tone of this verse is so worldly and condescending. The ordinary people in this world talk like this, "You're my slave. Am I not your master?" What's the difference between the masses and the Rabb-ul-Alameen? All are full of I, me and myself. The so-called Allah of the Quran sounds so narcissistic and obsessed with itself. There's a beautiful Hadees (though all teachings of Muhammad are distorted and plagiarised) which is actually a Talmudic proverb: Never make the other person feel inferior by making him constantly aware of your 'generosity.' Neki Kar, Dariya Mein Daal.' Why does Allah require to tell his followers all the time that It (no He/She) is their Lord? This sounds so cheap. The Quran is full of Allah's megalomania. It's also a cobweb of vague, vapid and volatile verses. The Quran-obsessed apologist says, "The Quran also says that Noah preached for 950 years. Today, we know that genetics determine our life span and that Noah and perhaps the people of his time were genetically different." He ends with this queer conclusion: "The theory of evolution is sound, but its tall claims that it can explain all life forms evolving from the most basic building blocks through step-by-step random changes and natural selection is disproved. The theory of evolution and Creation will co-exist." The Theory of Evolution and Creation are poles asunder. It's like Rudyard Kipling's 'East is East, and West is West/ And never the twain shall meet' from The Ballad of East and West. Muslims laugh at the outlandish belief of Hindus that there are 8 immortals (Chiranjivis) in Hinduism. It's indeed laughable. But by the same token, shouldn't Hindus and others laugh at the Quranic claim that Noah preached for close to a millennium? What nonsense! Faith indeed flattens a person's reason and intelligence. The Quran was meant for the chawbacons of the desert of Arabia 1400 years ago. Hardcore Muslims may say that the famous scientist like Henry Klassen, has converted to Islam. A viral video shows him saying the Shahada (the Islamic declaration of faith), one of the Five Pillars of Islam. This famous scientist in the field of stem cells converted to Islam on March 17, 2024. Agreed, but lakhs of Muslims, highly erudite among them, are also regularly leaving Islam. ---- 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, March 22, 2024

Pausing And Pondering While Reading Ehsan Danish

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 22 March 2024 "Qalam Bhi Hai, Aur Hai Syahi Bhi Soch Mein Magar Woh Gahrai Nahin" Ehsan Danish (Pen is there with ink as well/ But the thinking lacks profundity) This couplet explains the famous adage that ' poets and writers are born, not made.' You can have all the wherewithal to become a poet or a writer but if your thoughts are not so profound, you fail in your mission. I'm told, famous Hindi writer and editor Dharamvir Bharati, who edited the very popular Hindi magazine 'Dharmyug,' used to write this couplet of Danish on the submissions that failed to appeal to him. He'd then return the unpublished contributions to the contributors with a note of regret. Kuchh Log Jo Savaar Hain Kaaghaz Ki Naav Par Tohmat Taraashte Hain Hava Ke Dabaav Par Ehsan Danish (Those associated with the press/ Often chisel false allegations based on the prevalent trends). Danish wrote this when the printed words had a monopoly and publications determined the mind-sets and collective thinking. Levelling allegations against the opponents, at the behest of political parties, was the in-thing. Things have become murkier as print media now works in tandem with the visual and social media. What we see and read in countless TV debates and messages on social media, can be viewed as further extension of the erstwhile mud-slinging and scurrilous cat-fights on a public domain. So prophetic! Wasn't he? Ek Sher Ho Ya Ho Maamooli-Sa Jumla Tajurbaat Ke Bina Kuchh Likha Nahin Jaata (Whether a mere couplet or an ordinary sentence / Without experience, nothing can be written) "Ehsan Danish Ko Padhna Har Zaheen Shakhs Ka Marghoob Shaghl Hai" (Reading Ehsan Danish is every cerebral person's favourite pastime), opined Faiz Ahmad Faiz, the coeval of Ehsan Danish. Though Ehsan Danish wrote a lot, much of his literary work is still unpublished. Even his famous interpretation of Deewan-e-Ghalib is partially published. He was a polymath who penned down over 100 scholastic books on poetry, prose, linguistics, lexicography and prosody. At the beginning of his career his poetry was very romantic but later he wrote his poems more for the labourers and came to be called "Šhāʿir-e Mazdūr" (Poet of the workmen) by his audience. According to one commentator, his poetry inspired the common people's feelings and he has been compared with Josh Malihabadi. He holds the unique position as one of the best poets of all times, with fine, romantic and revolutionary, but simple style of poetry. The 3rd couplet "Ek Sher Ho Ya Ho Maamooli-Sa Jumla..." was the story of Ehsan Danish's own life and struggles. Ehsan was seen in the evening at the mushairas; in the morning, at the building sites with a brush in one hand and the lime-bucket in the other; or doing a gardener's job on the Simla Hill. He recorded the experiences of his early days in a fascinating autobiography – Jahan-e-Danish. In the realm of poetry, he was not a mere labourer, but a master architect. In his own words in Jahan-e-Danish: Sarsari Nazar Se Mujhe Na Padhna/ Takleefein Jo Uthayee Hain, Un Pe Ghaur Karna (Please don't read me cursorily / Do give a thought to my struggles). Yes, Danish Saheb, we pause and ponder while reading your thought-stirring poetry and memoirs. ---- 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, March 21, 2024

Rethinking Hijab and ‘Awra of Women: Embracing Flexibility and Contextual Realities and Rejecting Patriarchy and Traditionalism

By Adis Duderija, New Age Islam 21 March 2024 While The Majority Of Classical Jurists Considered A Woman's Entire Body, Except For The Hands And Face, As ‘Awra , Others Held Valid Minority Opinions That Restricted It To Parts Below The Elbow Or Knee. Additionally, Slave Girls Were Exempted From Certain Clothing Requirements, Such As Head Covering During Prayer, Based On A Consensus. ------ For references to this article in addition to hyperlinks in the main text below please click here. The concepts of hijab and ‘Awra which pertain to head covering and the parts of the body that should be concealed, have long been subjects of intense debate in Islamic jurisprudence. It is crucial, however, to recognize that the early rulings on these matters were heavily influenced by the social and historical contexts in which they emerged. As societies evolve, it is necessary to reconsider these rulings by carefully examining original source texts and shedding light on overlooked elements. This re-evaluation, firmly grounded in Islamic legal theory, can enable us to identify aspects of the laws that require flexibility to adapt to different circumstances across time and place. One key factor that underscores the need for reconsideration is the varying positions of premodern Muslim jurists regarding the definition of ‘Awra for women. While the majority of classical jurists considered a woman's entire body, except for the hands and face, as ‘Awra , others held valid minority opinions that restricted it to parts below the elbow or knee. Additionally, slave girls were exempted from certain clothing requirements, such as head covering during prayer, based on a consensus. These discrepancies suggest that the concepts of ‘Awra and modes of veiling were still evolving organically, shaped by the specific contexts in which they were applied, rather than being rigidly defined edicts. Moreover, several traditions also situate the revelation of veiling verses within a specific sociocultural framework, indicating that women faced harassment on their way to relieve themselves at night. The solution provided was contextual, addressing a clear harm rather than prescribing a universal standard of adornment. Furthermore, reports describe women in Medina regularly wearing modest but partially revealing attire, such as head covers thrown behind their shoulders, leaving their chests exposed. This affirms the early fluidity in sartorial practices. If strict veiling had been an absolute injunction, deviation would likely have been met with censure rather than tacit acceptance. Moreover, the exemption of slave girls from veiling requirements, despite their regular interactions with men, implies that functionality outweighed concerns of modesty related solely to physical attraction. Their unique status as contributing members of the economy necessitated active mobility, which warranted leniencies in dress. If exceptions can be made based on necessity, why not also consider situations in which the requirements of covering negatively impact the welfare and rights of modern women? Analogical reasoning and consideration of the public interest represent important aspects of Islamic legal discretion. Significantly, early sources make no mention of the term ‘Awra in prayer rulings; instead, they address appropriate types of clothing. This suggests that ‘Awra was a separate concept that was evolving independently of the requirements for prayer attire, thereby warranting detachment from direct implications on matters of faith. Furthermore, the early scholarly disagreements regarding the validity of prayer without ‘Awra coverings indicate divergent understandings of the centrality of ‘Awra to acts of worship, affirming a certain level of flexibility. When revisiting traditions that involve praying in a state of nakedness or minimal dress due to compelling circumstances, we find that the underlying principle is the fulfilment of religious duties, unhindered by the absence of optional coverings. While these allowances are exceptional, they exemplify the prioritization of essence over circumstance and invite reconsideration when the requirements of covering disproportionately impact rights or roles. The endorsement of praying under exceptional uncovered conditions found in hadith literature parallels matters of customary flexibility found more generally in Islamic law. Taken together, these findings imply that concepts of modesty, adornment, and their religious implications were shaped organically through interaction with dynamic social practices, rather than being fixed and unchangeable. They indicate that early efforts were focused on addressing identified vulnerabilities rather than imposing rigid sartorial regulations. These concepts remained flexible enough to accommodate divergent standards based on contextual considerations for specific populations, such as military personnel or servant-girls in times of need. Importantly, the issues of ‘Awrah and veiling for women were also based on certain patriarchal interpretations of the Qur’an, certain understanding of the nature of the concept of Sunna and its relationship with the idea of custom ( ‘Urf /’Adat) and these were underpinned by the logic of patriarchal honour. While core values, such as importance of privacy and modesty , remain integral, a deep look at historical rulings allows for the contextualist and culturally variable rethinking of practices of hijab and understandings of the concept of ‘Awra and therefore the very idea of modestly itself. As I argued elsewhere, moreover, there is an urgent need for decoupling these ideas and concepts from patriarchal interpretations of the Qur’an and sunna and the broader socio-cultural processes marked by patriarchy. Continuous questioning and reasoning focused on the best and most reasonable community’s interests (Maslaha) is the approach that is needed rather than continued preference for de-contextual thought and traditionalism that is still widely followed among those who insist on retaining the understandings on these issues inherited from classical Islamic laws. ----- 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 Honora 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

Lessons To Be Learnt From The Phenomenon Of Ex-Muslims

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 21 March 2024 The write up on the phenomenon of Ex-Muslims should serve as an eye-opener to all practising Muslims and a fodder for thought for all those facing the Hamletian dilemma of whether to leave Islam or not. What was unheard-of until 2000, is a reality in the new millennium. I've many ex-Muslim and educated Muslim friends in all parts of the world. Those who left Islam are critical of its obscurantism and extreme intolerance. But even those, who're still in the fold of Islam, have also begun to ask questions regarding Islam's status as a 'revealed' faith and the authenticity as well as divinity of Quranic verses. This is a good and encouraging development. In the last two decades, Islam has witnessed extreme adherence and also complete severance. Islam's hubristic claim as the only true faith is one more reason that has caused many of its faithfuls to reanalyse and rinse Islam. When they delved into the underbelly of Islam, they realized that many of its claims are either false or ramshackle. So, they left the faith. Islam's claim as a religion of peace stands exposed. The violent ways of its followers have made sane Muslims think anew and afresh. I'm not a proponent of Islam. I abhor all religions equally. But as a student of comparative religions with a focus on Islam, it's my SOS to the apologists, exegetes and scholars of Islam that they must change their fixed ways and attitude to make Islam a much more benign faith. For that, they must accept the fact that the Quran is man-written because it's flawed and biased. Stop interpreting it further. You've been interpreting it for more than 1400 years and also killing innocent people. So, stop this grandstanding and spreading a false narrative. World has had enough of your religious hypocrisy. Remove all Hadees (Muhammad's borrowed and spurious teachings) from the scheme of Islam. They're the roots of all evils. Don't deify Muhammad as an unblemished human; he wasn't. Avoid deification and stop condescending. Muslims should also purge their faith of all mullahs and Maulvis. They're termites. All religions are equally good and bad, mostly bad, because all are man-made. Be more flexible and listen to the voice of reason and sagacity. Those who've left Islam, must never opt for any other faith. Thank your stars that sanity and realization dawned on you and you could relinquish your faith. You're fortunate. All other faiths will be equally bad, nay, worse. Be a good human sans any religion. If there's an entity called god up there, rest assured, it has no religion. Nor does it want you to follow any damn faith. ---- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Manipulation of Qur'anic Verses in Extremist Islamist Discourse: A Critical Analysis of Sword Verses - Part One

By Grace Mubashir, New Age Islam 20 March 2024 Militant Islamist Ideologues And Propagandists Seek To Supplement Their Message With References To The Holy Book Of Islam, Framing The Narrative In A Religious Setting And Adding Perceived Religious Purpose And Legitimacy To The Prescribed Campaign Of Jihadist Militancy Main Points: 1. Militant Islamists maintain a rhetorical commitment to Salafist principles, emphasizing the foundational importance of Islamic scripture – the Qur'an and Hadith – and advocating for their literal interpretation and implementation 2. Militant interpretation often fails to capture the true essence of the Qur'anic verses and the context in which they were revealed ----- Modern militant Islamism, often labelled as 'jihadi-Salafism', diverges from the broader non-activist and apolitical strands of Salafism by actively engaging with what it perceives as a political reality. Despite this departure, militant Islamists maintain a rhetorical commitment to Salafist principles, emphasizing the foundational importance of Islamic scripture – the Qur'an and Hadith – and advocating for their literal interpretation and implementation. Acting as self-appointed guardians of the faith, militant Islamists insist on adherence to their interpretation of these religious doctrines, rejecting alternative forms of sovereignty in favour of what they see as the exclusive authority of the Qur'an and Sunnah, as articulated by figures like Ayman al-Zawahiri. This fundamentalist ideology has been adopted and wielded by extremist fringe groups primarily active in the Middle East for their religio-political objectives. Reuven Paz outlines three significant avenues through which this influence manifests: (1) the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (most famously through Sayyid Qutb’s ideas of Jahiliyyah —pre-Islamic ignorance, and Hakimiyyah—sovereignty of God), (2) Neo-Wahhabis of the Arabian Peninsula, and (3) the works of prominent Palestinian-Jordanian Islamist activists (primarily Abdullah Azzam, Abu Qatada and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi). In this examination, the focus lies solely on Qur'anic verses explicitly endorsing violence or combat, which militant Islamists have exploited in their messaging to incite support for violent jihad. This analysis excludes the more common utilization of Qur'anic verses to promote unity within the Muslim community and to strengthen resolve in the face of trials, temptations, and adversaries. It's important to clarify that this study does not aim to dissect the Qur'an itself but rather to scrutinize the selective use of individual verses by jihadist propagandists to glorify and advocate acts of violence. As illustrated below, their interpretation often fails to capture the true essence of the Qur'anic verses and the context in which they were revealed. In this study, I aim to achieve two primary objectives: 1. To examine the characteristics of Qur'anic referencing that rationalize violence, focusing particularly on the verses frequently utilized for this purpose in Islamist literature. 2. To identify aspects of selective and de-contextualized referencing that could potentially be exploited to undermine the narrative of militant Islamism. Certain sections of the Qur'an were revealed during a time marked by fierce inter-tribal conflicts in the Arabian Peninsula, notably during Prophet Muhammad's determined efforts, particularly post-migration (Hijra) to Medina, where he laid the foundations of Islam. Consequently, specific chapters (Surahs) of the Qur'an contain references to aspects of warfare and combat. These passages have since become central to the rhetoric of contemporary militant Islamist activists, who exploit them to advance their agenda. Fragmented elements endorsing violence are not exclusive to the Qur'an; they also exist within other religious texts, such as the Bible and the Old Testament. Particularly within the Old Testament, there are vivid descriptions of bloodshed celebrated as having divine sanction. For example, sections of Deuteronomy illustrate a lack of tolerance for idolatry, with believers commanded to dismantle altars, destroy sacred pillars, and eradicate idols by fire (Deuteronomy 7:5-6). Similar condemnation of idolatry in the Qur'an, notably in Al-Taubah (9):5, often referred to as "the verse of the sword," serves as a foundation for justifying violence. Additionally, numerous commands and accounts within the Old Testament glorify and legitimize violence. Abdullah Azzam, a significant figure among contemporary jihadists and an influence on Osama bin Laden, sought to delineate the progression of the concept of jihad and warfare in the Qur'an in his book "Defence of Muslim Lands." He identified several key stages in which "the command to fight" was revealed. Initially, believers were instructed to uphold their faith and distance themselves from polytheism, as elucidated in Al-Hijr (15): 94. Subsequently, there was the directive to invite non-believers to Islam, found in An-Nahl (16): 125. Should this invitation be rejected, according to Azzam's interpretation of Al-Hajj (22): 39, believers were permitted to engage in combat. Defensive warfare was sanctioned by Al-Baqarah (2): 191, while aggressive action after the conclusion of the sacred month was authorized by At-Taubah (9): 5. Finally, the right "to fight all out in general" was encouraged, as outlined by Azzam, in Al-Baqarah (2): 190: "And fight in the way of Allah those who fight you, but transgress not the limits. Truly Allah likes not the transgressors." Azzam's analysis highlights some of the most frequently referenced "fighting verses" within the discourse analysed. These "verses of the sword" are selectively framed and employed to underscore the perception of violence in the Qur'an, bolstering the argument that Muslims are obligated to support militant causes. Consequently, this selective referencing often presents a skewed and inaccurate portrayal of the Holy Book. Appendix lists all Qur'anic verses instrumentalised in more than three of the articles analysed to justify or encourage support for (terrorist) violence, along with their full English translations according to Ahmed Ali's 1993 translation of the Qur'an. Among these verses, An-Nisa 74-75 was quoted most frequently. These verses underscore grievance-based violent responses, aligning with the prevalent focus on grievances throughout the militant Islamist narrative. Surah 4, "The Women" (An-Nisa), At-Taubah (9), and Al-Baqarah (2) were the most prominently utilized chapters to convey and frame the pro-violence message. Notably, there were no significant differences in terms of the years or periods of publication. An-Nisa 74-75, for instance, appeared in medieval texts, Abdullah Azzam's works from the Soviet invasion era, as well as newer publications from As-Sahab. Interestingly, the review only identified two of the texts coded the verse Al-Anfal: 60: “Prepare against them whatever arms and cavalry you can muster, that you may strike terror in (the hearts of) the enemies of God and your own, and others besides them not known to you, but known to God. Whatever you spend in the way of God will be paid back to you in full, and no wrong will be done to you.” According to Gilles Kepel, this ayah is the central theme of the pro-militant narrative found in the writings of Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Abu Mus'ab al-Suri, and other famous scholars. It is one of the most well-known verses from the "Spoils of War" that are used to defend violent jihad. For Suri, the passage indicated the difference between "praiseworthy terrorism" refers to acts of violence carried out in God's service, wherein believers are ordered to "strike terror" on those who oppose Islam. Therefore, Al-Anfal: 60 served as the foundation for his concept of ‘Irhab Mahmud’, which is defined as "terrorism by the righteous who have been unjustly treated." Suri disapproved of the September 11 attacks since they cost him his safe haven in Afghanistan, but Osama bin Laden has used comparable language and justifications to support Al-Qaeda's terrorist plot and the 9/11 attacks. For example, he stated in his audio message from December 13, 2001, that "our terrorism against America is praiseworthy terrorism in order to repel the injustice of the oppressor." The Supporters of Shariah publication, which coded this story, used a similar classification system soon after Al-Qaeda bombed two US embassies in East Africa in August 1998. The Finsbury Park Mosque in North London's Abu Hamza al-Masri organization issued a newsletter that described the attack as "Islamic (obligatory) terrorism" and recommended supporting it. The authors cited Al-Anfal: 60 to bolster their claim. Some of the militant materials used Hadith or anecdotal tales celebrating the acts of "martyrs" and highlighting grievances to stress the need for the Ummah to participate and support the struggle in the name of Islam, rather than the Qur'an, to encourage fighting and violence. Not unexpectedly, the majority of this was tied to audio-visual content, with written materials relying on more exacting Qur'anic quotations. In trying to ground the pro-jihadist argument in the Qur'an, publications by Abdullah Azzam, Ibn Tamiyyah, and Ibn Nuhaas (via Anwar Awlaqi's translation and interpretation) were particularly notable. The leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pakistan, Maulana Mohammed Masood Azhar, also centred a large portion of his book, ‘The Virtues of Jihad’, on the significance of fighting according to the teachings of the Qur'an. "There is general agreement among Quranic scholars that no other specific action has been outlined with as much precision as Jihad," Azhar asserted. His analysis indicated that the Qur'an made reference to Jihad-Fi-Sabilillah (meaning "Jihad in the path of Allah") 26 times and Qital (fighting) 79 times. De-contextualised Use of Quotes from the Qur’an to Justify Violence The declaration issued by the 'World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders' in February 1998 marked the ambition of what later became known as Al-Qaeda to target Americans and their allies, both civilians and military. This declaration considered a significant public message from Al-Qaeda's leadership, began by quoting Sura At-Taubah (9): 5, urging Muslims to recognize their duty to 'slay the idolaters' wherever they may be found. However, the version of the verse cited by bin Laden and his co-signatories was truncated, omitting the second part of the ayah which emphasizes forgiveness and kindness if the idolaters repent, fulfil their obligations, and pay the zakat. This selective quoting of Qur'anic verses to suit specific agendas is a pattern observed in bin Laden's earlier Declaration of War in October 1996 as noted by Bruce Lawrence. Bin Laden disregards the original context of the verses and manipulates them to serve his own objectives. This approach distorts the broader teachings of the Qur'an and reduces its nuanced messages into a simplistic requirement of belief followed by warfare. In this instance, the Qur'an is used to justify targeting 'idolaters'—those who worship false gods—as legitimate targets. Ayman al-Zawahiri, a founding member of the 'World Islamic Front', previously argued on behalf of Al-Jihad that this command to target idolaters is particularly relevant when considering Western liberal democracies. He characterized democracy as a new religion that grants legislative authority to the people, which, according to him, amounts to associating idols with God and constitutes disbelief in Islam. Other quotes from Zawahiri further show how, in light of its interpretation of the Qur'an, Al-Qaeda justified its targeting of Christians by labelling them as "idolaters," or worshipers of false gods. 'Christianity cannot be accepted by a sound mind since it incorporates superstitions like the trinity, the crucifixion, redemption, the original sin, the pope's infallibility, and the church's forgiveness of sins,' he asserted, for example, in 2006. Furthermore, a number of Al-Qaeda communiqués have attempted to classify Arab political leaders as "idol kings," meaning that the Qur'an approves of their persecution. Al-Qaeda bases its arguments on what it sees as Islamic legitimization and thus aims to shape the Qur'anic verses and the heart of its own narrative to align with the group's ideology and strategic goals. In his ground-breaking work Defence of the Muslim Lands, which was previously noted, Abdullah Azzam reviewed the evolution of the idea of jihad in the name of the Lord and included a condensed version of At-Taubah (9): 5. Azzam argued how the order to fight was given to Muslims gradually, citing the Hanafi jurist and scholar Ibn Abidin (d. 1842). He contended that when the hallowed months had passed, more aggressive battle against Mushrikun—Jews, Christians, and pagans, in his view—would be allowed. "Then, when the sacred months (the first, seventh, eleventh, and twelfth months of the Islamic calendar) have passed, then kill the Mushrikun wherever you find them," was the command given to them when the sacred months had gone. The prohibitions against combat outlined in Sura 9:5 and the Qur'anic context were likely purposefully omitted. The same is true of Ibn Nuhaas's (Ahmad Ibrahim Muhammad al Dimashqi) book Mashari al-Ashwaq ila Masari al-Ushaaq, written by the medieval scholar (d. 1411). The first chapter of Ibn Nuhaas' book, "On The Command of Jihad Against the Non-Believers and its Mandate, and the Stern Warning Against Those who Do Not Practice Jihad," is introduced with the verse At-Taubah (9): 5. However, it is quoted without the second paragraph of the Ayat, or those that provide context, limiting the level of violence that is acceptable in the first paragraph. Erroneously attributed to Al-Anfal (Surah 8) instead of At-Taubah, the entire poem appears unedited in Dhiren Barot's book The Army of Madinah in Kashmir (published under the pen name "Esa al-Hindi"). ----- A regular columnist for, Mubashir V.P is a PhD scholar in Islamic Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia and freelance journalist. 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