Saturday, June 29, 2024

Baby Milk Bank of Karachi and The Islamic Bioethics

By New Age Islam Staff Writer 29 June 2024 Karachi Milk Bank Was Shut Down Due To Adverse Fatwa From A Seminary Main Points: 1. Baby Milk Bank or Lactarium is a modern way of wet nursing. 2. West countries have baby milk banks for pre-term babies. 3. The first baby milk bank was opened in Boston Floating Hospital inn1910. 4. Iran, Bangladesh and Kuwait have baby milk banks. ------ Mr Praveen Swami delves into the issue of baby milk bank and the Islamic bioethics involved in it. Baby milk banks are modern alternative to wet nursing, an ancient practice in Asia, Europe and Africa. The wet nurse of the pharaoh Tutankhamun was named Maia. The prophet Moses was adopted by the Pharaoh and his mother was requested by the royal court to breast feed him because the pharaoh did not know that Moses was her own child. It means that the practice of wet nursing was an accepted practice during that time. The wet nurse of Islamic Prophet was called Halima. The milk bank was inaugurated by Dr. Azra Pechuho, the provincial health minister of Sindh, along with officials from UNICEF and the Pakistan Paediatric Association | UNICEF Pakistan ------- A wet nurse was engaged to breast feed a child when the mother was not able to breast feed her or did not produce enough milk. But in royal or elite families, the women did not want to breast feed their babies and employed a wet nurse. The Quran permits this practice. It says: "If you decide to have your children nursed by a wet nurse, it is permissible as long as you pay fairly." (Baqarah:233) In modern times wet nurses may be difficult to find, particularly, when babies are born in hospitals. Many babies are pre-term babies and have to be kept in hospitals for longer periods. Therefore, finding a wet nurse may be a problem. So, the idea of baby milk banks caught up. In milk banks, the breast milk of donor women are pasteurised and stored for a long period, say 8 months. United Nations promoted milk banks and more than 30 countries joined the initiative. WHO stated that the first alternative to a biological mother not being able to breast feed is the use of human milk from other sources. Therefore, along with the European countries, some Islamic countries also started baby milk banks. But the bioethics of baby milk banks in Islamic society was a big hindrance in their popularity. Bangladesh, UAE and Iran have milk banks but some theologians expressed their reservations on the issue. For example, the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation proscribed milk banks because milk brothers and sisters are prohibited from marriage and in a milk bank, the record of donor women and the babies that are fed with her milk cannot be maintained. On the other hand, modern Islamic scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamidi approves of the milk bank arguing that through milk bank, a baby does not suckle the woman. Therefore, the rule of kinship does not apply here. But the Jamia Darul Uloom of Pakistan does not agree with the argument. When the Sindh Institute of Child Health, Karachi opened a baby milk bank aided by UNICEF and sought the fatwa from the Darul Uloom, it initially issued the fatwa approving of it with a condition that the milk bank must maintain a record of the donors and the beneficiary babies but later revised its position saying that it was not possible to maintain such a record and that poor women may sell their milk depriving their own babies of their breast milk and elite and rich women may exploit the poor women. Subsequently, the Karachi milk bank was shut down. The issue has been referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology that advises the state on religious issue but it may not go against the fatwa of Darul Uloom. The Council has not been able to guide the government on the issue of mob lynching of innocent Christians and even Muslims on whimsical and false accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan. The Karachi milk bank was shut down because if it continued even after the fatwa, some religious organisation might blow it up. This is the dilemma with the Muslim world today. Though all the theologians claim that Islamic law or jurisprudence is rooted in the Quran and Sunnah, they present divergent and often contrary interpretations of the Quran and cherry pick hadiths to suit their position no matter if the hadith is weak. In this case too, the theologians of Bangladesh, Iran and Kuwait find baby milk banks Shariah compliant, but the theologians of Pakistan find it problematic. Their opinion on the issue may change after 30 or 40 years as has been the case with the use of loudspeakers or the TV. The loudspeaker was the voice of the devil and the TV was also a satanic device. But now they cannot live without them. In fact they lije more to go to the TV studios to attend debates. Mr Pravin Swami observes that the issue of bioethics has not created problems for only Muslims. Other communities and their leaders have also expressed reservations to new ideas and scientific developments. For example, Gandhiji had opposed small pox vaccination on the ground that it involved cells harvested from the cow's udders. The Jehovah's Witness, a religious community, does not allow their children blood transfusion for religious reasons. However, the reservations of the Muslims on the issue may disappear with time because the Muslims have always shown a knee jerk reaction to every scientific invention or a new idea. Examples galore. Till then, preterm babies may be fed with formula milk or breast fed by wet nurses. ----- Pakistani Fundamentalists Closer to Controlling State. Now The Battle Is Over Baby Milk Bank By Praveen Swami 26 June, 2024 The judges had decided their punishment before the trial began: Like Jesus, the Persian-born mystic Abu al-Mughis al-Husayn bin Mansur al-Hallaj, known to the world as Mansur al-Hallaj, was crucified, and his body burned together with his books. From Gujarat and Kashmir, to Mecca and Medina, al-Hallaj had relentlessly campaigned against the Abbasid Caliphate’s harsh oppression of the working poor, preaching the radical idea that the pursuit of kashf, or enlightenment, could unite the human soul with God. For a while, the scholar Shemeem Burney Abbas has written, al-Hallaj was defended by Shaghab, mother of the caliph al-Muqtadir—but by 922 C.E., all his protectors had been marginalised in court. The word of God belonged, after all, to the state and its servants, not heretics. Last week, newspaper headlines around the world documented the the brutal lynching of Muhammad Ismail, a tourist from Punjab who was tortured and then set on fire by a cheering mob in Pakistan’s idyllic Swat. The savage killing is part of a grinding campaign of violence against alleged blasphemers, spearheaded by the Far-Right Tehreek Labbaik-e-Pakistan, or TLP. Even as the horror in Swat unfolded, religious fundamentalists were registering an even more significant success. Karachi’s prestigious Sindh Institute of Child Health and Neonatology shut down the country’s first human milk bank after the powerful Jami’a Dar-ul-Uloom seminary withdrew theological sanction for its operations. The decision, doctors say, endangers the lives of preterm babies whose mothers are unable to breastfeed them. The battle over milk banks, part of a bitter debate within Islam, has pitted modernisers against fundamentalists in many countries. The case of Pakistan is unique, though: Nowhere else has the decision to open, or close, a medical facility been delegated to clerics with no legal or constitutional authority. Fundamentalists have proved willing to sacrifice infants for the cause of building a theocratic dystopia, while the nation-state has demonstrated it can do nothing but stand by and watch. The Baby Milk Battle Ever since the mid-1980s, when milk banks began to establish themselves as a key tool of advanced neonatal care, Islamic clerics pushed back against the concept. Islamic theology, doctors Sonia Subudhi and Natasha Sriraman note, mandates the existence of Rida’a, or so-called milk kinship between the non-biological infant and the woman who breastfeeds them, as well as her biological children. The Shari’ah, or religious law, proscribes marriages between so-called milk brothers and sisters. Islam recognised the critical importance of breastfeeding, and wet nursing was a well-established practice among the Bedouin communities where the religion first emerged. The Organisation of Islamic Countries’ bioethics panel, doctors Mohammed Ali al-Bar Hassan Chamsi-Pasha wrote, proscribed milk banks in 1985, arguing that it was impossible for them to maintain the sanctity of milk kin relationships. That hasn’t ended the debate though. Some theologians, like Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, argue that the milk-kinship relationship applies only when children are suckled, not by milk itself. Iran thus has several milk banks, together with Bangladesh and Kuwait, each operating under somewhat different kinds of religious compliance. In Singapore and the United States, where there are significant Muslim communities, some clerics have given theological approval to existing milk banks. Giving preterm babies pasteurised donor breast milk instead of formula, experts have said, gives significant protection against dangerous conditions like necrotising enterocolitis. Earlier this year, when the Sindh Institute of Child Health decided to open a United Nations Children’s Fund-aided breast milk facility, it reached out to clerics at the Dar-ul-Uloom, which traces its origins to the famous seminary of Deoband. The seminary responded with a Fatwa, or opinion, giving conditional permission. The Fatwa stipulates, among other things, that records be maintained of donors so milk kinship relationships could be established, and that milk only be given from Muslim mothers to Muslim children—a record-keeping provision that, interestingly, is not applied to organ transplants or blood transfusions. The facility was inaugurated by Dr. Azra Pechuho, the provincial health minister of Sindh, together with officials from UNICEF and the Pakistan Paediatric Association. The Theology of Death For reasons that aren’t entirely clear—likely tied to ideological power struggles within the institution—the Dar-ul-Uloom suddenly changed course last week, amid the renewed blasphemy mobilisation. The institution now declared, a new Fatwa, that the terms it had laid out were impossible to observe. There was, it argued, no way to ensure the traceability of all donors. There were also wider problems: Letting poor mothers sell milk might deprive their own babies, while elite women would shirk their religious obligation to their children. The hospital promptly shut down the milk bank; one spokesperson for the institution bitterly told media, “Our society has lost the ability to debate like educated people.” The issue has now been referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology, a body founded in 1962 to advise the state on religious issues. The body, political scientist political scientist Sarah Holz has noted, has come to be dominated by small-town clerics with reactionary views. Ever since the Lahore carpenter Ilm-ud-Din murdered the anti-Islam polemicist Mahashe Rajpal in 1927—possibly seeking to expiate guilt over homoerotic longing, documents show—this cowing-down has characterised the course of the project of Pakistan. Lacking legitimacy, elites sought to recruit the clerics and faith to their cause, with tragic consequences. In the late 1970s, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s military regime backed clerical demands for a theocratic state, in return for their declaring that Nizam-e-Mustafa, the order ordained by Islam, demanded the centralisation of power in a despot. Following 9/11, General Pervez Musharraf created his own clerical army, , backing reactionary elements in the Barelvi sect in the hope of outmanoeuvring his jihadist opponents. The State and God Islam isn’t unique in promoting anti-science. MK Gandhi resisted life-saving smallpox vaccinations, historian Nandini Oza reminds us, arguing they involved cells harvested from cows’ udders. For years, doctors in the West have been compelled to turn to courts to battle parents belonging to the Jehovah’s Witness sect, who refuse to allow their children to be given blood transfusions. Ethical debates rage around issues like circumcision and abortion. The issue with the Karachi milk bank, though, isn’t the conflict between medicine and faith: It is whether clerics or the state and its democratic institutions should have the power to judge issues of bioethics. In this case, a degraded state has surrendered its authority to decide. Late one afternoon in August 1948, as military doctor Major Mahmud Ahmad desperately tried to restart his stalled car on a Quetta road, someone in an angry mob of cleric-led anti-Ahmadi protestors noticed he had a neatly trimmed beard. That was, to them, enough proof Ahmad was an apostate. The doctor’s body was found days later, one lung pierced with a knife, and guts carved out of his body. The very first blasphemy murder in Pakistan was of a man charged with protecting its nationhood. From Surriya Shafi, charged with blasphemy for using pictures of mermaids in a college-level English textbook, to High Court judge Arif Husain Bhatti, killed for acquitting a blasphemy-accused, and Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab, assassinated by a fanatic: The victims of Pakistan’s theocracy have not just been religious minorities, but the upholders of its state. Today, the mob in Swat, and the jihadists who murder Pakistani soldiers each day, aren’t just destroying the state: They’re also coming for the country’s children. ----- Praveen Swami is a contributing editor at ThePrint. (Edited by Theres Sudeep) Source: Pakistani Fundamentalists Closer to Controlling State. Now The Battle Is Over Baby Milk Bank 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

Banning Hijab Violates Principles of Diversity, Inclusivity and Mutual Respect

By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam 29 June 2024 Even Though There Exist Varying Interpretations Within Islamic Jurisprudence Regarding the Complete Coverage Of The Face With The Niqab, The Wearing Of The Hijab, And The Specific Requirements Related To The Extent Of Covering Known As Satr-e-Aurawah For Muslim Women, It Is Essential To Acknowledge That Hijab Ultimately Is An Individual Woman's Choice Of Attire, Transcending Religious Boundaries And Embracing Personal Freedom. Main Points: 1. Banning the Hijab goes against the fundamental values of a society that prioritizes diversity, inclusivity, mutual respect and freedom of choice. 2. Inclusivity is a cornerstone of a progressive society, where every individual is valued and respected. Banning the Hijab would contradict this principle. 3. The Muslim girls in society are reported to deeply believe that wearing the Hijab serves as a significant catalyst in nurturing a strong sense of self-worth and dignity within themselves. 4. In today's society, where certain individuals unashamedly derive pleasure from voyeuristically viewing women in a state of undress or scantily clad, there exists a vehement push to outlaw the wearing of the Hijab by some. 5. On one hand, we witness an unabashed obsession with objectifying and demeaning women, while on the other, there is a regressive call to suppress a woman's right to express her faith and identity through the Hijab. ------ (Photo: From Files) ------ Banning the Hijab goes against the fundamental values of a society that prioritizes diversity, inclusivity, mutual respect and freedom of choice. By prohibiting the wearing of the Hijab, society would be disregarding the rights and freedoms of individuals to express their religious beliefs and cultural identity. Such an action could lead to marginalization and discrimination of those who choose to wear the Hijab, creating a divisive and oppressive environment. In a society that truly values diversity, it is important to embrace differences and promote understanding among its members. By allowing individuals to freely practice their beliefs, including the choice to wear the Hijab, society fosters an environment of tolerance and acceptance. This openness to diverse perspectives and traditions enriches the social fabric and contributes to a more harmonious and united community. Moreover, inclusivity is a cornerstone of a progressive society, where every individual is valued and respected. Banning the Hijab would contradict this principle by excluding a specific group of people based on their religious practices. This exclusion could lead to feelings of alienation and inequality among those who are targeted by such discriminatory policies. In essence, a society that aspires to uphold the values of diversity, inclusivity, and mutual respect must recognize and protect the rights of all its members, regardless of their cultural or religious backgrounds. Banning the Hijab not only undermines these values but also sets a dangerous precedent of intolerance and injustice within the community. Many of the young women who have converted to Islam in various regions of Europe and the West often come across the diverse lifestyles within Islam and view them as appealing options. Upon careful consideration, the Hijab emerges as a particularly favoured choice among these individuals for numerous reasons. Primarily, it provides them with a sense of privacy and shields them from the unwelcome gaze of societal norms. Additionally, the common Muslim girls think that the Hijab plays a crucial role in instilling a profound feeling of self-respect within them, especially by signalling an expression of respect from male counterparts, creating a semblance of mutual understanding and dignity. The Muslim girls in society are reported to deeply believe that wearing the Hijab serves as a significant catalyst in nurturing a strong sense of self-worth and dignity within themselves. This conviction is especially pronounced as they view the Hijab not just as a piece of clothing but as a symbol of their values and beliefs. In their eyes, donning the Hijab goes beyond a mere act of modesty; it represents a profound commitment to their identity and faith. Additionally, these young Muslim women perceive the Hijab as a powerful tool of empowerment, enabling them to navigate the world with confidence and grace. By choosing to wear the Hijab, they assert their autonomy and agency, making a bold statement about their values and principles. Furthermore, through the act of veiling, they feel a sense of unity and solidarity with other women who share their beliefs, forming a community bound by mutual respect and understanding. Moreover, these women believe that the Hijab serves as a shield that protects them from objectification and unwanted advances, allowing them to interact with their male counterparts on an equal footing. This mutual respect, established through the symbolism of the Hijab, fosters a culture of dignity and understanding between both genders, transcending mere appearance to focus on the qualities and character of individuals. In this way, the Hijab becomes a bridge that connects people and fosters a sense of shared humanity, promoting tolerance and respect in a diverse society. It is noteworthy to reflect on the fact that certain factions oppose the Hijab precisely because of the influence it holds in shaping the perception of Islam as an empowering religion offering thoughtful choices to its followers, especially women. The push to ban the Hijab can be seen as stemming from a fear of Islam being viewed favourably as a religion that promotes individual choice among the Hijab, Niqab and other dignities, particularly among the younger generation of women in the Western world. This resistance seems to underscore a larger societal struggle between embracing diverse freedoms of expression and conformity to established norms, highlighting the enduring debate over cultural acceptance and personal autonomy. It is undeniably disturbing that in today's society, where certain individuals unashamedly derive pleasure from voyeuristically viewing women in a state of undress or scantily clad, there exists a vehement push to outlaw the wearing of the Hijab by some. This stark contrast highlights a troubling paradox prevalent in our modern world. On one hand, we witness an unabashed obsession with objectifying and demeaning women, while on the other, there is a regressive call to suppress a woman's right to express her faith and identity through the Hijab. This contradiction sheds light on the underlying hypocrisy and double standards that persist in societal attitudes towards women and their autonomy. The audacity of those advocating for the banning of the Hijab is deeply concerning, as it reflects a fundamental lack of respect for individual beliefs and freedoms. By seeking to impose such restrictions, they are not only infringing upon religious rights but also perpetuating a culture of intolerance and discrimination. It is imperative to recognize that a person's choice to wear the Hijab is a personal and deeply meaningful decision that should be afforded the same level of respect and acceptance as any other form of self-expression. Even though there exist varying interpretations within Islamic jurisprudence regarding the complete coverage of the face with the Niqab, the wearing of the Hijab, and the specific requirements related to the extent of covering known as Satr-e-Aurawah for Muslim women, it is essential to acknowledge that Hijab ultimately is an individual woman's choice of attire, transcending religious boundaries and embracing personal freedom. This emphasizes the broader notion that each woman, irrespective of her faith background, has the autonomy to decide how she presents herself in society. The diverse opinions within Islam contribute to a rich tapestry of cultural and religious practices, fostering tolerance and understanding among individuals with differing beliefs. By acknowledging and respecting each woman's decision to wear the Hijab as an expression of her identity and values, society can cultivate an environment of inclusivity and acceptance. In a world where diversity is celebrated, the choice to wear a Hijab becomes a powerful symbol of self-expression and empowerment for women, regardless of their religious affiliations. It is crucial to recognize that the freedom to choose one's attire is a fundamental right that should be safeguarded and respected, promoting a culture of mutual respect and appreciation for individual differences. Therefore, the Hijab serves as a universal emblem of personal agency and cultural heritage, illustrating the beauty and strength found in embracing one's identity and beliefs. In the face of such disturbing trends, it becomes increasingly crucial to challenge the narrow-minded viewpoints that seek to dictate how women should dress or behave. Upholding the right of individuals to practice their faith and uphold their cultural traditions, including wearing the Hijab, is essential in fostering a society that values diversity, inclusivity, and mutual respect. By condemning the objectification of women while also defending their right to dress according to their beliefs, we can strive towards a more equitable and harmonious coexistence in our multifaceted world. ------- A regular Columnist with, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is a Classical Islamic scholar with a rich Sufi Madrasa background and expertise in English-Arabic-Urdu translation. Throughout his career, he has emerged as a prominent figure in the realm of Islamic scholarship, consistently contributing valuable insights and analysis on a wide range of crucial topics. Through his regular writings, he has delved into multifaceted subjects, including but not limited to deradicalization strategies, the promotion of moderation within Islamic teachings, counter-terrorism efforts, and the vital mission of combatting Islamophobia. Moreover, he extensively addresses the urgent need to challenge radical ideologies through well-reasoned arguments and scholarly discourse. Beyond these critical issues, his work also encompasses in-depth discussions on human rights principles, the significance of safeguarding religious rights, and the profound exploration of Islamic mysticism. 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

Vigilance against Rumours: An Islamic Perspective

By Kaniz Fatma, New Age Islam 29 June 2024 Islam's Emphasis on Verifying Information Main Points: 1. Quranic Guidance on Verifying Information 2. Hadiths on the Importance of Verifying News 3. False rumours can lead to distrust, discord, and significant crises within communities. 4. The teachings from the Quran and Hadith underscore the moral duty to uphold truthfulness and integrity in all forms of communication. ---- Islam, a religion of peace, justice, and wisdom, emphasizes the significance of verifying information before accepting and spreading it. Whether conveyed orally or through modern channels such as social media, rumours hold the potential to wreak havoc on individual lives and societal harmony. Islam disciplines its adherents to approach information with scrutiny and caution, ensuring the integrity of communication is upheld. We can delve into how Islam, through the Quran and Hadith, fosters a culture of vigilance against the dissemination of unverified news and rumours. Quranic Guidance on Verifying Information The Quran, the holy book of Islam, provides clear directives regarding the importance of verifying information. One of the pivotal verses addressing this is found in Surah Al-Hujurat: "O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful." (Quran 49:6) This verse is a potent reminder to Muslims to be cautious about unverified news, emphasizing the need for proper investigation to prevent unintended harm. In the context provided by the Quran, this teaching underscores the potential negative consequences of acting on false information and underscores the regret that might follow such actions. Hadiths on the Importance of Verifying News The Hadith, recordings of the sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), further reinforce the necessity of verifying information and the dangers inherent in spreading rumours. One such saying of the Prophet is: "It is enough falsehood for a man to speak of everything that he hears." (Sahih Muslim, Book 31, Hadith 6) This narration encourages believers to refrain from relaying every piece of information they encounter, recognizing that unchecked dissemination may equate to spreading falsehoods. Another significant Hadith states: "Whoever narrates a hadith from me (the Prophet) knowing that it is false, then he is but one of the liars." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 3, Hadith 108) This Hadith cautions follower to maintain accuracy and truthfulness when sharing information. It stresses responsible communication as a moral and religious duty, thereby guarding against the propagation of falsehoods and protecting the community from its adverse impacts. Ethical and Social Implications The instructions to investigate and verify information before spreading reflect deeply on the ethical and social framework in Islam. False rumours can lead to distrust, discord, and even significant crises within communities. By promoting the habit of verification, Islam seeks to create a society rooted in truth and trustworthiness. Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "True believer is not involved in taunting, or frequently cursing (others) or in indecency or abusing." (At-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1977) This Hadith emphasizes the ethical demeanour expected of a Muslim, implying that conveying rumours (often laden with taunts, indecency, and abuse) is contrary to the Islamic moral code. Conclusion slam’s emphasis on verifying information before acceptance and dissemination stands as a timeless guideline for fostering responsible communication within society. The teachings from the Quran and Hadith collectively underscore the perils of rumour-mongering and the moral duty to uphold truthfulness and integrity in all forms of communication. By fostering a vigilant approach towards news and rumours, Islam not only preserves societal harmony but also instils a profound sense of accountability and ethical responsibility among its followers. This fundamental principle is as pertinent today, in the age of social media and instantaneous communication, as it has ever been, guiding individuals to navigate the complexities of information with prudence and integrity. ----- Kaniz Fatma is a classic Islamic scholar and a regular columnist for New Age Islam. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Crime and Chicanery in Politics

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 29 June 2024 The Parliament Reminds You of Billingsgate (London Fish Market Known for Its Crude and Vulgar Language; It Now Connotes Extremely Abusive Language). During The Oath-Taking Ceremony, Asaduddin Owaisi Says, Jai Palestine. In Reply to That, Yet Another Ruffian and Maharashtra BJP Leader Nitesh Rane Says, "If Anyone Cuts Off Owaisi's Tongue, I'll Reward Him." ------ You all must be aware that out of the 543 winning candidates analysed in the Lok Sabha 2024 elections, 251 (46%) of newly elected MPs have criminal cases. Among these, 170 (31%) winning candidates have serious criminal cases, including charges related to rape, murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, and crimes against women. Imagine, these rogues are our representatives in the government which itself is thoroughly corrupt. The Parliament reminds you of Billingsgate (London fish market known for its crude and vulgar language; it now connotes extremely abusive language). During the oath-taking ceremony, Asaduddin Owaisi says, Jai Palestine. In reply to that, yet another ruffian and Maharashtra BJP leader Nitesh Rane says, "If anyone cuts off Owaisi's tongue, I'll reward him." You can jolly well expect further deterioration in conduct, speech and actions of our chosen representatives. Who chooses such lumpen elements? And what will these leaders do for the society? I wrote a piece prior to the general elections, urging people to elect 'less corrupt' candidates because expecting a politician who has no blot on his / her escutcheon is akin to coming out of the storage for turds without getting soiled and besmirched. But unfortunately, a large number of political leaders seem to be vying for the top slot in crime and chicanery. As per present norms laid down by the Supreme Court unless a person is convicted, he or she is an accused. However, in the case of those who are convicted for serious charges, the Supreme Court needs to intervene and proclaim them to be unfit to represent the people. Today, even persons such as Amritpal Singh from Punjab and Rashid Engineer from Kashmir imprisoned for anti-national activities have been declared elected. When they are in prison, how can they project the issues of the people who have elected them? Let's see what transpires in the days and months to come. ------- 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, June 28, 2024

Amid Hue and Cry Over Bombay High Court Ruling On Hijab, A Look at Hijab Ban in Islamic Country Tajikistan

By New Age Islam Staff Writer 28 June 2024 Tajikistan Parliament Bans Hijab and Eid Festivities in The Country Main Points: 1. 2.Tajik government closed 1500 mosques in 2011 and 1938 mosques in 2017. 2. Beards are banned in public places and schools. 3. Azan is not allowed on loudspeakers. 4. 5.Girls wearing hijab are expelled from schools. ----- (File Photo) for Representative Purpose ----- While there has been much hue and cry aver hijab ban in some colleges in India, the restrictions on hijab and other Islamic clothing and practices in an Islamic country Tajikistan with 98 per cent Muslim population evokes much surprise and debate. The government of Tajikistan has banned hijab in all public places after over a decade of secularisation of Tajik society. The President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon has been criticising Islamic burqa and other Islamic practices as a symbol of foreign and alien culture. He has been promoting ancestral values and national culture. Before the hijab was banned by the Tajik parliament, hijab and miniskirts and beards were already banned in secular schools in the country. Girls wearing hijab were expelled from schools. This was one of the many restrictions placed on the Muslim society of Tajikistan to prevent Pan-Islamic religiosity in public. At a time when the religious scholars and leaders of Asian countries have been promoting Arab culture among the Muslims, the Tajik government has declared Arab culture 'alien' to Tajikistan. The Tajik parliament dubbed hijab as Astik,"alien garment" and exhorted the Tajik Muslims to adopt national culture and clothing. It would be surprising for many Muslims of India and Pakistan that the Tajik government under Emomali Rahmon has been cracking down on unregistered mosques, churches and synagogues and monitoring religious education and religious activities of Tajik people. It has not hesitated to close down or destroy unregistered mosques, churches or synagogues. In 2011, it shut down 1500 mosques and in 2017, 1938 mosques. More importantly or rather disgustingly, some mosques were converted into tea shops, some into medicine centres and some into beauty parlours. The mosques, churches and synagogues that refuse to government principles and regulations are shut down. Beards are also seen as a potential symbol of extremism by the Tajik government and therefore men, particularly students are banned from wearing beards. The Tajik government has also banned the custom of Eidi, the gift to children from elders and Eid festivities. Children below 18 years of age are barred from Friday prayers and from religious activities. They are more encouraged to pay attention to their studies and to do their homework. Prayers in public halls are prohibited in Tajikistan and all religious activities should have prior approval of the government. The Friday sermons are pre-approved with topics given by the government as is the norm in some Arab countries. Clerics cannot give private sermons as is done by maulvis in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the name of Milad or Islah-e-Moashra (social reform), spreading sectarian hatred among the Muslim masses. Salafism or Wahhabism is not approved because it is considered a foreign religious doctrine. (It does not mean that the Barailvi sect is approved). Only government approved religious education is allowed in schools. There is only one madrasa in Tajikistan. If a student wants to study religion abroad, he needs the government approval. The Tajik government promotes national clothing. It has shut down hundreds of Islamic clothing stores and has published a guide book of national clothing. Names is yet another issue on which the Tajik government has clear directive. It discourages Arabic names and promotes Tajik or at best Persian names. The president suggested that the Persian epic Shahnameh should be consulted as a source for names. On the contrary, in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Muslins tend more and more towards Arabic names for their babies. The replacement of Khuda Hafiz with Allah Hafiz is, one example of the influence of Arab culture. The Tajik government does not recognise Islamic organisations and has therefore, banned the Islamic Renaissance Party. The party has been banned as a terrorist organisation. The Tajik president Emomali Rahmon, therefore, has successfully prevented public show of religiosity without facing any violent protests and opposition. There have been criticism of the government decisions in the country and abroad but on the whole, the decisions of the government have been accepted by the majority of the population. Emomali knows from the developments in the South East Asian Muslim majority countries that uncontrolled religious activities and sectarian or extremist ideologies gradually over take the society and in the end, it goes out of control of the government as has happened in Pakistan and Middle East. Therefore, he has restricted religious activities and public visibility of religiosity in the country. It may be said that he has crossed the limits by restricting Eid festivities for children or forcing the Muslim men to shave their beards or restricting the number of mosques in a town. He has perhaps done it to prevent the growth of religious fanaticism as a result of uncontrolled religiosity in Muslim societies. The hijab ban in Tajikistan shows that the Islamic countries have different approach and interpretation of modesty in Islam. The Quran does not prescribe face veil but the Islamic scholars and exegetes have preached that a woman should cover her face. This was repeated and reiterated so many times and by so many scholars that the face veil has become a religious issue. The girl students have, therefore, been made to believe that covering their face is their religious duty. In Iran, keeping the face uncovered is allowed but the woman must cover her hair as if the hair is a 'satar', a body part to be covered. Mahsa Amini was killed by the religious police not because she had not covered her hair but because she had not covered it 'properly'. It means inly some part of her hair could be seen. The so-called ulema of Taliban say that the full body of the woman, including her face must be covered when she ventures out and she should be accompanied by her close man relative. These interpretations have also influenced the Indian women who believe that her hair is also a 'Satar' to be fully covered. It is the Islamic scholars who have confused the Muslim Ummah with their divergent, sometimes, contradictory interpretations of the Quranic verses. 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

Where Was Sikh Maryada When the Golden Temple Was Being Desecrated by Bhindaranwale and His Men?

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 28 June 2024 Recently, a social media influencer, Archana Makwana, from Gujarat who was booked by the Punjab Police for hurting religious sentiments for performing Yog (not yoga; it's an anglicised orthography of the Sanskrit word Yog) inside the Golden Temple premises was provided protection by the Gujarat police after she received multiple threat calls. Golden Temple ------- “No one can be allowed to act against Sikh conduct at the Golden Temple but some people deliberately ignore the sanctity and historical importance of this holy place and commit objectionable acts,” SGPC president HS Dhami had said in a statement. “Sikh sentiments and ‘Maryada’ (conduct) have been hurt by the act, so a complaint has been filed with the police,” he added. This foolish woman's innocuous Yog antics defiled the sanctity of the Golden Temple! Where was the Sikh Maryada when Jarnail Singh Bhindaranwale and his goons were desecrating the Golden Temple in the early 80s? The horrifying crimes and scandalous misdemeanours of Bhindaranwale have been forgotten and forgiven. How can the place have any sanctity after being used for gruesome and scandalous misdeeds by the charlatan? Sikhs still regard him as a martyr. Has anybody from the community dared to denounce and excommunicate him? But the same hypocrites are objecting to something so casual and inoffensive. Social Media Influencer, Archana Makwana ------- Sikhs used to be pretty liberal until a few years ago. Now they too have become like Muslims and neo-Hindus. A Delhi-based Urdu journalist friend of mine, who's a chain smoker, quipped that nowadays he was really apprehensive of smoking in public whenever he was in Punjab, lest Sikhs should appear from nowhere and beat him black and blue. The readers may be aware that tobacco is prohibited in Sikhism. Sikhs, who didn't mind eating halal meat, are now demanding to have only Jhatka meat because it's written in their holy book Guru Granth Sahib that they (followers of Sikhism) must never eat halal meat. Wahe Guru! Humans have become so petty and puerile thanks to all man-made, utterly useless religions. Furthermore, Sikhism is not a separate religion. It's a Panth (sect, Sampradaay, Firqa). Happy that one religion, Zoroastrianism, and its miniscule followers are still untouched by the overwhelming religiosity that has engulfed mankind. A jovial Parsi once told yours truly, " The day even one Parsi will act fanatically, the world will collapse." ------- 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

“Insha’Allah” A Small Act of a Human & The Chaos Theory: Scientific Evidence Proves Even Small Acts of Kindness Lead to Significant Positive Outcomes

By T.O. Shanavas, New Age Islam 28 June 2024 The Principles of Chaos Theory That Govern the Universe Could Explain Why the Qur’an Advises Muslims to Always Include the Phrase “If Allah Wills (Insha’Allah)” When Making Plans for The Future. In Chapter 18, Verses 23-24, This Instruction Serves as A Reminder of the Unpredictable Nature of Events and The Importance of Acknowledging the Influence of Divine Will in All Our Intentions and Actions -------- Numerous individuals may not always follow through with their good intentions because they underestimate the impact of their actions. However, scientific evidence proves that even small acts of kindness can have a ripple effect and lead to significant positive outcomes. This theory is supported by chaos theory, which demonstrates how small changes can have large and unpredictable effects on complex systems. So, next time you doubt the power of your actions, remember that even the smallest gesture of kindness can make a big difference in the world. What is the Chaos Theory? Chaos theory is a branch of mathematics that deals with systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions, a phenomenon popularly referred to as the "butterfly effect” somewhere in the universe causing a storm in Texas. Small differences in initial conditions can lead to vastly different outcomes, making long-term prediction difficult or impossible. Evidence for chaos theory comes from both theoretical foundations and experimental observations across various fields. Chaos theory is a branch of mathematics that deals with systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions, a phenomenon popularly referred to as the "butterfly effect." Small differences in initial conditions can lead to vastly different outcomes, making long-term prediction difficult or impossible. Evidence for chaos theory comes from both theoretical foundations and experimental observations across various fields. Here are some key pieces of evidence and examples: Imagine you're trying to predict the weather on your farm. You know that weather patterns often follow certain rules and can sometimes be predicted based on past experiences. However, you also know that weather can be very unpredictable and can change suddenly in ways that are hard to foresee. The Lorenz Attractor is like a map of how weather patterns can behave. It's based on some mathematical rules that describe how weather changes over time. Even though these weather patterns follow specific rules (they're deterministic), small changes in initial conditions (like a slight difference in temperature or wind) can lead to vastly different outcomes. This means that while the system follows a predictable path, it becomes very hard to predict exactly where it will go in the long run. The discovery of the Lorenz attractor showed scientists that even systems that follow clear rules (like the weather or plant growth) can be very unpredictable. This was the first clear evidence that systems could be both orderly and chaotic at the same time. Chaos theory is supported by a robust body of theoretical work, experimental evidence, and practical applications across various fields. For example, it is used Engineering and Control Systems and techniques have been developed to control chaotic systems, making them behave in a predictable manner. Chaos theory helps in understanding complex biological processes and diseases, including cancers, heart arrhythmias and brain activity patterns in epilepsy. The principles of Chaos Theory that govern the universe could explain why the Qur’an advises Muslims to always include the phrase “if Allah wills (Inshah Allah)” when making plans for the future. In chapter 18, verses 23-24, this instruction serves as a reminder of the unpredictable nature of events and the importance of acknowledging the influence of divine will in all our intentions and actions. By recognizing the role of Chaos Theory and submitting to Allah's ultimate control, Muslims are encouraged to approach their plans with humility and a sense of surrender to the greater forces at play in the universe. One compelling example for the Chaos theory from Indian history that illustrates chaos theory and the butterfly effect is the Salt March led by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930. Rosa Parks' seemingly small act of defiance of refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man illustrates another example of the profound impact that individual actions can have on society. Her courage and determination not only changed the course of her own life but also sparked a major social movement that led to significant legal and societal changes in the United States. The Chaos Theory can serve as a source of inspiration for Muslims, as it illustrates how small acts of righteousness can have far-reaching and significant impacts in the world. By understanding the interconnectedness of all things and the potential for even the smallest actions to create massive goodness, Muslims can be encouraged to continue their efforts towards making positive change. Just as a small flap of a butterfly's wings can create a hurricane on the other side of the world, a single act of kindness or righteousness can lead to unimaginable goodness and blessings for all. ---- T.O. Shanavas is a native of Kerala, but is now based in the USA. He is the author of “Islamic Theory of Evolution The Missing Link Between Darwin and The Origin of Species.” Co-author of the book, And God Said, "Let There Be Evolution!": Reconciling The Book Of Genesis, The Qur'an, And The Theory Of Evolution. Edited by Prof. Charles M. Wynn and Prof. Arthur W. Wiggins. 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 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

Nalanda Mahavihar: Bakhtiar Khilji Fits into The General Islamophobic Propaganda Against Muslims

By Ram Puniyani for New Age Islam 28 June 2024 All Reliable Sources Point to The Fact of Brahmins Burning the Library as Revenge. Bringing in Bakhtiar Khilji Fits into The General Islamophobic Propaganda Against Muslims and At The Same Time Hides The True Story Of Persecution Of Buddhism During That Period. ------ The campus of Nalanda was inaugurated formally by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi on 19th June (2024) in presence of Ambassadors of many countries like Myanmar, Srilanka, Vietnam, Japan, Korea among others. Most of these countries are the ones where Buddhism was spread by the preachers sent by Emperor Ashok. Initially the idea of reviving Nalanda as a premier global University was floated by the then President A.P.J Abul Kalam in 2006 and later ratified by Bihar Assembly and UPA Government. On the occasion; Modi stated that this University was burnt by foreign invaders in 12th Century. He was just parroting the popular perception that Bakhtiyar Khilji, the courtier of Mahmud Ghori had burnt it. Ruins of Nalanda University ----- This perception is an add-on to the other such ‘social common sense’ that Muslim invaders destroyed the Hindu Temples and spread Islam by force. Incidentally the propagation of these understandings began with the introduction of communal historiography by the British and later picked up with big gusto by the communal streams, Muslim communalism and Hindu Communalism. While the propagation of myths propagated by Muslim League against Hindus is playing havoc in Pakistan, in India it is RSS which has played this up, leading to Hate against Muslims in our society to the extent that Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel had to write this about RSS, “All their speeches were full of communal poison. It was not necessary to spread poison in order to enthuse the Hindus and organize for their protection. As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the invaluable life of Gandhiji.” When Modi was mouthing that Nalanda was burnt by foreign invaders, this falls in the same category of falsehoods which are used to spread the Hatred against Muslims. Nalanda had a glorious residential University, spread out in a large area in Rajgir Bihar, built by Gupta's in the sixth century. It was a Buddhist centre as Archaeological evidence shows. Primarily it was for study of Buddhist philosophy, in addition Brahminical scriptures, mathematics, logic and health science were also taught. Its tradition of open discussion and logic were so high that it attracted students and scholars from various destinations. It was supported by the Kings, later with the coming of Pala and Senaa dynasty its patronage was reduced and withdrawn. Patronage was redirected to new Universities, like Odantpuri and Vikramshila in particular. This was the beginning of the decline of Nalanda. Who set fire to the great library housing millions of books, Manuscripts and rare collections? While it is being attributed to Khilji, particularly after the coming of the British, there is no single primary source mentioning this. Khilji’s primary goal was to loot and plunder. On route from Ayodhya to Bengal he did attack Kila-i-Bihar thinking this is a forte with wealth. On the way he plundered wealth and killed people. Nalanda was not on the route, rather far away from the route, and he had no reason to attack a University. Most of the primary sources related to history of that time do not mention Khilji coming to Nalanda. Tabakat-a-Nasiri written by Minhaj-e-Siraj has no mention on these lines. Two Tibetan Scholars, Dharmaswamin and Sumpa were keenly studying the history of India, particularly related to Buddhism, in their books also; Khilji is not mentioned as the one who either came to Nalanda or burnt it. Taranath, another well-known Buddhist scholar from Tibet also does not mention any such fact. Interestingly Buddhist structures of importance like Ajanta, Ellora, and Sanchi stupa were also not the subject of ire of ‘invaders’! Nor do the Indian historians Jadunath Sarkar and R C Majumdar endorse Nalanda being destroyed by Khilji. So how it got burnt and lost its historical importance. Many stories abound apart from the Khilji destroying it, being most prevalent. Prof. D. N. Jha, the authority on Ancient Indian History in his essay, ‘Responding to a communalist’ in compilation of his essays (Against the Grain, Manohar 2020, pp 185 onwards) gives an excellent summary of the relevant part of the book ‘History of Buddhism in Indian’ by Tibetan monk Taranath. “During the consecration ceremony of the Temple built by Kakutsiddha at Nalendra [Nalanda] ‘the young naughty Shamans threw slops at tirthika beggars (Brahmins, added) … Angered by this one of them went for arranging livelihood and the other sat in the deep pit and engaged himself in ‘Surya Sadhana) …He performed a sacrifice and scattered the charmed ashes all around which resulted in the miraculous fire.” History of Indian Logic p. 516, cited by D R Patil, ‘The Antiquarian Remnant’ in Bihar says that this incidence refers to the actual scuffle between Buddhist and Brahminical mendicants. The latter propitiated the Sun God, performed a sacrifice and threw the living ambers and ashes from the sacrificial pit to Buddhist temples. This is what led to the burning of the great collection of books at that time. We also need to register that this was a period when the attacks against Buddhism were coming up as the resurgence of Brahmanism was coming up in a big way. After the period of Ashoka when India became Buddhist in large measure, the notions of equality ruled in a big way. Due to this the Brahamanical rituals declined leading to a big dissatisfaction among Brahmins. A bit later when Ashoka’s grandson Brihdrath was ruling, his commander-in-chief Pushyamitra Shung murdered Brihdrath and became the ruler unleashing an anti-Buddhist persecution. All reliable sources point to the fact of Brahmins burning the library as revenge. Bringing in Bakhtiar Khilji fits into the general Islamophobic propaganda against Muslims and at the same time hides the true story of persecution of Buddhism during that period. What we need to preserve from the Buddhist period is a spirit of free debate and logic as the underlying base of education. In present times our Universities are being stifled by the imposition of a culture of obedience and subordination in the matters of academia. The knowledge cannot be imbibed or developed under such conditions. If we can learn this from the tragic history of the struggle between Buddhism and Brahmanism in India, it will be a crucial aspect of the development of academia in the country. ----- Ram Puniyani is president of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism. 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Thursday, June 27, 2024

Democratic Nations Should Stop Supporting Regimes That Do Not Allow Freedom of Expression: Sultan Shahin Tells The UNHRC in Geneva During Its June 2024 Session

By Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam 27 June 2024 Mr. President, Suppression of Freedom of Expression and curbing dissenting opinions is one of the factors leading to Islamist radicalisation and terrorism. Hardly any Muslim country allows its people to freely express their views. Religious dogma has also taken hold in these societies due to lack of free debates. For instance, some countries like Pakistan have anti-Blasphemy laws with stringent punishments to the alleged blasphemer. The dogma is that there is a consensus of ulema that blasphemers of Islam, Quran and Prophet Mohammad should be put to death. This is not true. Only a few scholars take such a hard line. But lack of debate allows this hard-line dogma to become the accepted truth. There is also a consensus of Islamic scholars that ordinary citizens cannot take the law into their hands, and only judiciary can order any punishments. But a lack of debate in Islamic societies ensures that this fact does not reach the common Muslims. Mr. President, Most people involved in anti-Blasphemy violence, in Pakistan, for instance, get their ideas from the Islamic scholars’ ill-informed speeches. But reformist Muslims who try to question these violent ideas face threats. It’s time democratic nations stop supporting states that curb free speech and are intolerant of dissenting opinions. ----- In order to accommodate as many ECOSOC Status NGO delegates as possible each delegate is only allowed to speak for 90 seconds in that forum, however I would like to elaborate for New Age Islam readers. We can hardly blame present day Muslim societies for a lack of free debate. Apart from the time of Khulafa-e-Rashidin, there has never been a Muslim state that allowed freedom of expression. Not only has just political freedom been clamped down upon, even religious views could never be debated freely. One can hardly think of even one great jurist in Islamic history who was not persecuted, tortured and whipped for his theological opinion throughout the millennium and a half history of Islam. The most tragic part of this history is the period between 825 CE and 841 CE, when the so-called rationalist theologians, the Mutazila, were supported by the Caliphs and in a sense enjoyed political power. The then Caliphs supported their theology. But these brilliant and visionary rationalist ulema too persecuted severely those who disagreed with them, the traditionalist Ahl-e-Sunna and the Ash’aris. Even a great jurist of the stature of Imam Hanbal was flogged repeatedly. It was only when the new Caliph al-Muntassar realised the popularity of Iman Hanbal that he was released and allowed to function freely. Then, however, ahl-e-Sunnat began the persecution of the Mutazila, which continued for centuries. This persecution was so severe that we hardly find any Mutazila literature of those times. We know of Mutazila views only from the quotations used in their refutation by Ahl e Sunnat theologians. The history of persecution of dissenting views is long and easily available on the internet. I will not, therefore, go into details, but mention only a few scholars who suffered enormously and some who are still suffering: Ibn al-Rawandi (827-911), Al-Mansur al-Hallaj (858-922), Al-Ma'arri (973-1057), Averroes (Ibn Rushd) (1126-1198), Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328), Abdullah al-Qasimi (1907-1996), Nawal El Saadawi (1931-2021), Nasr Abu Zayd (1943-2010), Mohammed Arkoun (1928 - 2010). Still suffering persecution in Saudi prisons are Raif Badawi and his sister Samar Badawi for their call to reform and freedom of speech as well as freedom of movement for women. Information on internet: Raif Badawi: A Saudi writer and activist, Raif Badawi, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for "insulting Islam through electronic channels." His blog, "Free Saudi Liberals," advocated for secularism and freedom of speech, which clashed with Wahhabi principles. Samar Badawi: An activist for women's rights and the sister of Raif Badawi, Samar has been arrested multiple times for her advocacy, including her fight against the male guardianship system. While women in Saudi Arabia have gained a measure of freedom of movement without a male escort, and there is now a general atmosphere of freedom in some respects, freedom of expression is still very much restricted. As for the state of freedom of expression in Afghanistan, the less said the better. The second Taliban regime is as oppressive as the first one, but the world community is gradually coming to terms with them. Indeed, the world community doesn’t seem to have any problem in dealing with oppressive regimes as long as they are useful. Apart from the international community, a big responsibility also devolves on Muslim ulema to propagate through whatever pulpit is available to them these two facts I mentioned in my speech in the interactive dialogue at UNHRC. 1. The Quran doesn’t ask common Muslims to punish blasphemy or apostasy in any way. These punishments are later innovations of some ulema. There is no unanimity of ulema on this. 2. All punishments in any civilised society are to be prescribed by the State or Judiciary. Crimes should never be punished by common Muslims without any authority. I sometimes imagine meeting Mohammad Riyaz Ansari and Ghous Mohammad, the two terrorists who beheaded Kanhaiya Lal Teli, an Udaipur tailor, for supporting a BJP leader’s blasphemous statement against Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). I imagine meeting them before the slaughter. If they told me they were going to avenge on video the denigration of the Prophet by killing one of the thousands of supporters of that lady, the original blasphemer. I would tell them this is wrong. No one can take an innocent person’s life. Even if he has done some wrong, he is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law and even then, it would be for the state to punish him. Now these two are not only headed for a death row themselves but are going to hurt the peaceful image of the Indian Muslim community, which will henceforth be considered as extremist as its Pakistani counterpart. The difference between Indian and Pakistani Muslim communities will be erased. Indian Muslim community has drawn a lot of praise worldwide for the patience and stoicism with which they have faced provocations for years, and have thus protected their life and limb, as well as the image of Indian Isam. But the impact of years of patience will vanish as soon as the video of the beheading of Kanhaiya Lal Teli by two bearded, religious looking Muslims goes viral. Now, I would naturally want to dissuade them from this dastardly, inhuman, un-Islamic, anti-Islamic, anti-Muslim, anti-national act. But what would I tell them? Ansari is a welder's son. Ghous must belong to a similar background. They may have studied in madrasas, either Barailvi, Deobandi or ahl-e-Hadith. They must be familiar with classical Islamic theology, which calls for beheading blasphemers, apostates, and even Muslims who deviate even slightly from the views of the founder of their Maslak (sect). They may have read at a young age a book called Islami Akhlaq o Aadaab, prescribed for 10/12-year-old boys says in a separate exhortation, apropos nothing, without any context: "When you go out to kill Mushrikeen, make sure you kill them before they are able to kill you. But even if you get killed before killing them, according to some ulema, you have served a good purpose, as this will inspire others to kill Mushrikeen." (I have put the above in quotes, but this is actually a summary and gist of the para, from my memory.) This same para and the same exhortation is elaborated at great length in probably 10 such paras in Bahar-e-Shariat, taught to students of Aalimiat at the age of 16/17. Now how will I talk to Ansari and Ghouse, who may have gone through such incendiary education. What will I tell them, knowing that this is a life and death matter not only for these idiots who are going to turn into terrorists soon, but also for our community. I will naturally bring all my persuasive capacity to the fore, marshal arguments from all my learning of Islamic theology, and present it in a language they can understand. But will that wipe away what they have learnt in seminaries or heard during Friday Khutbas (sermons) in mosques? Similarly, if I came face to face with "Islamist" mobs that ran riots in the Jharkhand capital of Ranchi, resorting to stone-pelting, arson, and vandalism, on the same issue of Blasphemy, before they had gone on a rampage, and thought I should try and stop them, what sermon would I give them. I know their mindset. They have all gone through traditional Islamic theological education, either directly through madrasa education, or Juma Khutbas (Friday sermons) in mosques, or indirectly through books on the internet. What sermon will I give them, if I had an opportunity, knowing that soon some of them will either be dead or in prison, bringing the entire community into disrepute. I doubt if any arguments, however learned and persuasive, can douse the flames of an inflamed sentiment. The time to work on this is now when there are no issues of blasphemy or apostasy agitating common Muslims. And while thinking, rational Muslims have a role, the heavy load has to be borne by the ulema. They have to first educate themselves properly in accordance with the norms of a modern civilised society. Then pass on the new learning to common Muslims, so that when the occasion arises, they remain cool and calm. Ulema should understand that today’s world discusses and debates all aspects of religion. People discuss their own religions, and threadbare. No holds barred. Movies are made about Hazrat Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) that a Muslim may consider blasphemous. They may be right or wrong in this characterisation. But nothing should be done. Violent repercussions are entirely impermissible, both by Islamic as well as State law. Similarly, the world is bound to discuss and debate various aspects of Islam. We Muslims can contribute to that debate by accepting or refuting some points. But we cannot go beyond that. Our Ulema have to at least start debating these issues among themselves. 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 Emergence of the True Good: Nurturing Deeply Mutual Relationships

By Adis Duderija, New Age Islam 27 June 2024 In Our Quest For A Meaningful And Fulfilling Life, We Must Recognise The Profound Significance Of Deeply Mutual Relationships. These Relationships, Grounded In Mutual Respect, Empathy, Interconnectedness, And Virtuous Qualities, Hold The Key To The Emergence Of The True Good. ----- “The True Good Is An Emergent From Deeply Mutual Relationships”. —Bernard Loomer, “Two Kinds of Power”. In our pursuit of a meaningful and fulfilling life, we often seek to understand the nature of the true good. We ponder questions about what truly matters, what brings us genuine happiness, and how we can contribute positively to the world. It is in the context of deeply mutual relationships that the true good emerges. These relationships, characterized by mutual respect, empathy, and interconnectedness, hold the key to unlocking our highest potential. In this op-ed, I want to briefly examine the profound significance of nurturing such relationships, and how they catalyse the emergence of the true good in our lives. The Essence of Deeply Mutual Relationships Deeply mutual relationships transcend the superficial and transactional interactions that permeate our daily lives. They are grounded in authentic connection, characterised by genuine care and understanding. In these relationships, individuals recognize and honour each other's inherent worth and unique qualities. They foster an environment of trust, vulnerability, and reciprocity, where both parties feel seen, heard, and valued. It is within the context of such relationships that the true good can flourish. At the core of deeply mutual relationships lies mutual respect and empathy. Individuals in these relationships recognise the inherent dignity and worth of each other. They embrace and celebrate their differences, fostering an environment of inclusivity and acceptance. Empathy plays a crucial role, as it enables individuals to understand and share in the emotions and experiences of others. Through empathy, we are able to forge deeper connections and cultivate a sincere desire for the well-being and happiness of those around us. Interconnectedness and Interdependence Deeply mutual relationships acknowledge the interconnectedness and interdependence of all beings. They recognise that our actions and choices affect not only ourselves but also those around us. These relationships transcend self-interest, fostering a sense of collective responsibility and a commitment to the common good. Individuals in such relationships understand that their well-being is intertwined with the well-being of others. This awareness gives rise to a desire to nurture and support one another, leading to the emergence of the true good. In deeply mutual relationships, individuals are inspired to cultivate virtuous qualities. Virtues such as compassion, kindness, integrity, and generosity become the guiding principles of their interactions. These qualities not only enrich the relationships themselves but also extend their influence to the wider community. As individuals strive to embody these virtues, they contribute to a positive and harmonious social fabric, fostering an environment that nurtures the true good. The Emergence of the True Good The true good emerges from the dynamic interplay of deeply mutual relationships. It is not a static entity but rather a continuous process of growth and transformation. Within these relationships, individuals find support, encouragement, and inspiration to pursue what truly matters. The true good encompasses the holistic well-being of individuals and communities, transcending mere material possessions or achievements. It is grounded in values such as love, compassion, justice, and the pursuit of truth. Nurturing deeply mutual relationships requires active engagement and intentional effort. It entails cultivating self-awareness, empathy, and a willingness to invest time and energy in connecting with others. It involves listening deeply, seeking to understand, and embracing diverse perspectives. Building and sustaining these relationships also necessitates open communication, conflict resolution, and a commitment to personal growth. By nurturing these relationships, we create the conditions for the true good to emerge and flourish. The impact of deeply mutual relationships extends beyond the individuals involved. As these relationships flourish, they radiate outward, creating a ripple effect of positive change. The qualities and values cultivated within these relationships permeate the broader society, influencing social norms, institutions, and collective behaviour. The true good, nurtured within deeply mutual relationships, has the power to inspire and transform communities, fostering greater compassion, justice, and harmony. In our quest for a meaningful and fulfilling life, we must recognise the profound significance of deeply mutual relationships. These relationships, grounded in mutual respect, empathy, interconnectedness, and virtuous qualities, hold the key to the emergence of the true good. They provide a nurturing space for personal growth, connection, and the pursuit of what truly matters. As we cultivate and prioritise these relationships, we contribute to the well-being of individuals and communities, fostering a more compassionate, just, and harmonious world. Let us embrace the transformative power of deeply mutual relationships and strive to nurture the emergence of the true good in our lives and in the world around us. ----- To learn more about Dr. Adis Duderija academic and public scholarship visit his website: ---- 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

Humans Perpetuate a Destructive and Divisive Lie

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 27 June 2024 "Despite Knowing That It's Factually Incorrect, Humans Perpetuate A Destructive And Divisive Lie To Malign A Group Of People." A J Cronin, The Judas Tree, 1961 A video has been doing the rounds on WhatsApp with a claim that two Muslim restaurant owners in London were arrested for mixing human faeces in their food and serving it to non-Muslim customers. This was debunked two years ago with facts and findings. Yet, the 'students' of WhatsApp ' University ' believe that this actually happened and two Muslims restaurant owners indeed mixed excreta with food with a view to desecrating the 'faiths' of the Kafirs! Fact Check: WhatsApp Message Claims Muslims Restaurant Owners Mix Human Faeces In Food To be honest, even those who're circulating and forwarding this obnoxious post are also aware that this cannot be correct. But we're living in such divisive and communally surcharged times that anything that can sully the image of Muslims is most welcome. The doctor-novelist (Cronin was a Scottish medico who wrote exceptional novels) elsewhere wrote that, "Fallen enemies are further trampled underfoot." Since Muslims are already at the receiving end, further humiliation gives some sort of a sadistic kick to the Hindutva forces and Sanatanis who're out to declare Muslims as sub-humans. Thousands of such misleading videos and posts have been making the rounds on social media and we're taking them to be true. We don't bother to fact-check and even after checking their veracity, we continue to circulate them to vitiate the spirit of bonhomie. Videos showing Muslims spitting and urinating on food and eatables are examples of the perpetuation of such blatant lies. Needless to say, these posts are totally inauthentic and such incidents never happened. But who cares? We're all on a maligning spree. Social media adds fuel to this fire to turn it into a veritable conflagration. Got to say, certainly very dangerous and decadent times to be in. ------- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

The Amorphous Nature of Reincarnation: Individual's Beliefs Determine Thought Process

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 26 June 2024 Sinan Ibn Salman Ibn Muhammad, Also Known As Rashid Al-Din Sinan, (R. 1162-92) Subscribed To The Transmigration Of Souls As A Tenet Of The Alawi, Who Are Thought To Have Been Influenced By Isma’ilism. Modern Sufis Who Embrace The Idea Of Reincarnation Include Bawa Muhaiyadeen. ----- I can empathise with Mr Syed Zaidi's outburst. I take it in my stride because it's his belief that makes him react in a vituperative manner. His surname Zaidi suggests that he's a Shia Muslim. Right? An individual's beliefs determine his/her thought process. Photo: ----- ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Also Read: The Dubious Shebang of Appointing a Dalai Lama ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Humans are bundles of beliefs. While reincarnation is refuted by all the main monotheistic religions of the world, including Islam, the idea of reincarnation is accepted by a few Muslim sects, particularly of the Shia sect (Ghulat), and by other sects in the Muslim world such as Druzes. Ghulat Shia Muslim sect regards its founders as in some special sense divine incarnations (Hulul). Historically, South Asian Isma’ilis performed chants yearly, one of which is for sins committed in past lives. Further, Sinan ibn Salman ibn Muhammad, also known as Rashid al-Din Sinan, (r. 1162-92) subscribed to the transmigration of souls as a tenet of the Alawi, who are thought to have been influenced by Isma’ilism. Modern Sufis who embrace the idea of reincarnation include Bawa Muhaiyadeen. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Also Read: The Doctrine of Reincarnation Explains Many Phenomena of Life ------------------------------------------------------------------------ It must be mentioned that though the Quran rejects the concept of reincarnation, it preaches the existence of the soul. The principle belief in Islam is that there is only one birth on this earth. The Doomsday comes after death and an individual will be judged as to whether he'll go to hell or be unified with god. What's reincarnation: One of the mysteries puzzling the human mind since the origin of mankind is the concept of “reincarnation.” It is derived from Latin and literally means “to take on the flesh again,” in other words, “to take on the fleshy (physical) body.” Discussion of the subject appears in the philosophical traditions of India and Greece from about the 6th century BC. What exactly is reincarnation? It simply means that we leave one life and go into another; it is all for the sole purpose of soul development and spiritual growth. The soul may take the form of human, animal, or plant depending on the moral quality of the previous life's actions. This doctrine is a central tenet of the Indian and Greek religions. However, reincarnation implies that the person remains essentially the same, while occupying a new body. Reincarnation is also known by other terms like “rebirth,” “metempsychosis” (Greek word), “transmigration” (English equivalent of metempsychosis), “disambiguation,” “palingenesis” and so on. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Reincarnation Stories Told By Children Bring New Light On Soul Or Spirit: An Ideological Challenge To Islam? -------------------------------------------------------------------------- This writer didn't criticise the whole caboodle of reincarnation. He criticised the manipulative as well as deceptive nature of appointing a Dalai Lama on the basis of a transmigration of the soul. Buddha appointed his closest disciple Anand as his successor, not on the basis of reincarnation but on the basis of Anand’s 'relative enlightenment' (Pratyastiti in Sanskrit/ Pratyas in Pali). Buddha said, "Ne Va Nishkanti Nidham" (No more successor after that). But as we know, any spiritual journey or concept splits into sects, sub sects and sub sets. Today, every faith has innumerable sects and sub sects. Subsets of Mahayana Buddhism include Tibetan Buddhism and Namchak lineage. The concept of Dalai Lama in Tibetan Buddhism came into being only in the 14th century, Gendun Drup (1391-1474) being the First Dalai Lama whereas Buddhism is more than 2, 600-yr-old. Obviously, it's a theological interpolation which aims at the supremacy of one person, called the Dalai Lama. Pristine Buddhism didn't believe in hierarchical hegemony. But in the case of Tibetan Buddhism, all powers are enshrined in one individual, the Dalai Lama. Moreover, it thus far denied a woman's spiritual sublimation to become the Dalai Lama. It's worthwhile to mention that the Hinayana sect of Buddhism takes the whole process of reincarnation as well as the appointment of Dalai Lamas with a pinch of salt because Hinayana Buddhism considers Gautama Buddha as an ordinary human being who attained Nirvana. According to Hinayana, all ordinary humans are capable of attainment of Nirvana and Enlightenment. There are NO select few, attaining greater and exclusive wisdom. In other words, Nirvana and Enlightenment aren't prerogatives of a handful of chosen individuals. To encapsulate, building a spiritual 'empire' on the basis of a flimsy and tenuous concept called reincarnation is something that's not acceptable to anyone who bothers to think. Lastly, thanks Mr Zaidi for the nice epithets that you've used for me. Remember, human mind's greatest weakness is to make concepts that fit into its belief and then believe that this is the absolute truth. Such diverse beliefs have led to the origin of masses called religions. ------- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Growing Islamism in Europe Results in Backlash from Majority Community

By New Age Islam Staff Writer 25 June 2024 A 14-Year-Old Autistic Boy Was Suspended for Inadvertently Dropping the Quran Main Points: 1. Muslims held rally demanding Islamic caliphate in Germany. 2. An Imam in France was deported for calling French nationa flag satanic. 3. Extremist preacher Anjem Chaudhary of London was sentenced to 5 years for supporting ISIS. 4. 'Muslim Patrol' in East London imposes Shariah Law in the area. ------ Europe and America have granted refuge to immigrants from all over the world under their age old democratic values and inclusive approach and also granted them social, political and religious rights. Taking advantage of the tolerance, inclusive approach and secular and democratic values of the European countries, the Muslims from the Muslim majority countries of Asia, Africa and Europe have found refuge in the US, UK, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany etc. and settled there for better life and future for their children. As a result, Muslim population in Europe grew to 3 to 4 per cent in Europe in the last one hundred years. The Muslims migrated to Europe in the wake of social, political and religious strife, wars and civil wars in their respective countries. Some major events that caused large scale displacement of Muslims were the 1971 war of independence of Bangladesh, the 20-year war in Afghanistan, the civil war in African countries and the civil war in the Middle East that started in 2011. During this period alone, 1.3 million people migrated to European countries due to large scale displacement of the Muslims from Iraq, Syria, Libya and other African countries. This caused the problem of illegal immigration in Europe leading to a number of social, economic and political problems in host countries. With the growth in Muslim population in the European countries, the problem of Islamism and religious extremism also became distinct with the passage of time. The Islamist organisations of the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent started appointing preachers and imams associated with their sect or ideological schools in the mosques and Islamic centres in Europe. These preachers and imams had a hostile attitude to the majority population of their adopted countries because they were mostly Christians, the People of the Book in Quran's words. But the preachers declared these Christian majority countries Dar-al-Harb (enemy territory) and presented the majority community as the enemies of Islam and Muslims though they enjoyed all the religious rights in these countries. They were granted land for building mosques and educational institutions. They were allowed to preach and propagate their religion peacefully. They were allowed to pray and hold demonstrations. Still a section of preachers preached extremist ideas among the immigrant Muslims. After the emergence of the ISIS, they have even started demanding the imposition of Sharia Laws and establishment of caliphate in some countries. In April this year, a radical organisation Muslim Interaktiv of Germany held a rally in Hamburg demanding a caliphate and abolition of democracy in Germany. In February this year, an imam of France, Imam Mahjoub Mahjoubi was arrested and deported to Tunisia for calling the French national flag 'satanic'. A preacher of UK, Anjem Chaudhry was sentenced to five and a half years in jail for openly supporting the ISIS. The Muslims of East London started 'Muslim Patrol' imposing Sharia Law in the area. The members of the patrol harassed Christians for drinking wine in their area and harassed women wearing skirts. As a reaction, Christians started 'Christian Patrol'. This caused tensions between the two communities. Recently, the Islamist organisations of Pakistan and Bangladesh have been trying to impose blasphemy laws by threatening people with punishment for blasphemy. A 14-year-old Autistic student was suspended for inadvertently dropping the Quran. All this has evoked reactions and concerns among the British, German and French people over the future of their society and now they have started expressing their concerns over the growing Islamism and extremism among the immigrant Muslims. A fortnight ago, a rally was organised by a far right activist Tommy Robinson in London. The protesters held placards that read: "This is London, not Londonistan" and "We want our country back." This reflected their fear of their country being overtaken by the extremists. During the election campaign UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also said that Islamic preachers spread poison and declared that Islamists would be deported. Demands have been made for strict screening of foreign preachers before granting them visa. His government has even formulated a plan to resettle all illegal immigrants to the unsafe African country Rwanda. The majority of illegal immigrants being the Muslims, they will form the majority of the deportees to Rwanda. The growing population of immigrants and the growing number of illegal immigrants, mostly Muslims have compelled the European governments to chalk out plans to solve the immigrant problem. The growing Islamism and extremism of extremist and militant Islamic organisations have further exacerbated the problem. The majority community now feels threatened by the Muslims. This fear has further been fuelled by far right activists and politicians like Le Pen in France, Geert Wilders in Netherlands, Georgia Melony in Italy and Rasmus Paludan in Sweden. Rishi Sunak is also tilting to the far right ideology so far as his approach to Muslims is concerned. He includes pro-Palestine protesters in the universities of the UK among the Islamists and has cancelled visas of students calling them a threat to the society. He seems to be influenced by the Jewish lobby. A Lebanese PhD student of Palestinian origin Amina al Ashka was denied visa after she was awarded a scholarship by the London School of Economics. Other students have also suffered due to Rishi Sunak's anti-Palestine policy. To him, supporting the cause of Palestine is also Islamism and extremism. That's why, a section of the activists and scholars of the UK have not supported Rishi Sunak's deportation plan or his stance against pro-Palestine students. The European governments have every right to legally deal with terrorism, extremism and religious fanaticism and Islamic countries have co-operated with them in the war on terrorism. The UK, France, Germany or Netherlands rightly take legal action against extremist preachers who spread hate and create differences between communities but there is a difference between Islamism and social and political activism.. The Islamist preachers have added to the problems of the immigrant Muslims in European countries. Through their extremist and sectarian ideas, they are creating the same environment in the Muslim society in Europe which they left in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. ----- Urdu Article: Threat Of Local Reaction To Muslim Extremism In Europe یوروپ میں مسلم انتہا پسندی کے خلاف مقامی ردعمل کا خطرہ 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 Denial of Education to Muslim Girls in Afghanistan Goes Against the Teachings of Islam

By Kaniz Fatma, New Age Islam 25 June 2024 Gaining Knowledge Is Obligatory for All Muslims, Regardless of Gender Main Points: 1. The pursuit of knowledge is not limited to a particular gender; it is a universal right that is equally bestowed upon both men and women 2. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself explicitly declared the obligatory nature of seeking knowledge for all Muslims. 3. Despite the teachings of Islam, many Muslim girls are denied their right to education. ------ Girls education in Afghanistan/ Photo from File ------- In the context of Islam, education is highly valued, and it is stated in Islam that gaining knowledge is obligatory for all Muslims, regardless of gender. Islam emphasizes the importance of education for both men and women, as it is considered the key to personal growth, empowerment, and societal development. However, in Afghanistan, despite the teachings of Islam, many Muslim girls are denied their right to education, facing significant barriers that prevent them from accessing quality schooling. Historically, Afghanistan has faced decades of conflict and instability, which have had a profound impact on the education system in the country, particularly for girls. During the Taliban regime from 1996 to 2001, girls were prohibited from attending school, and education for women was severely restricted. After the fall of the Taliban regime, positive strides in girls' education were witnessed, offering hope for progress. However, in a stark reversal of expectations, the Taliban once again seized power in August 2021, pledging a governance with supposedly more moderate tones that purportedly embraced the rights of women and minorities. Despite these assurances, the abrupt prohibition on girls attending secondary schools and the revocation of critical educational policies, notably the GEP, through a series of stringent orders plunged the nation into disbelief and dismay. Many Afghan citizens found themselves grappling with the sudden reality as the Taliban imposed this unwarranted ban, which not only goes against fundamental worldly principles but also contradicts the tenets of Islam itself. Consequently, the decree not only upends the core beliefs of a religion deeply intertwined with the Afghan identity but also directly challenges the Taliban's endeavours to secure acknowledgment and acceptance at the global stage. One of the key figures in advocating for girls' education in Afghanistan is Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani education activist who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in 2012. Malala's courageous efforts to promote girls' education globally have brought international attention to the issue and inspired many to take action. She has become a symbol of resilience and determination, fighting for the rights of girls to receive quality education, despite facing tremendous adversity. In Afghanistan, there are also local activists and organizations working tirelessly to ensure that girls have access to education. The Afghan Institute of Learning, founded by Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, has been instrumental in providing educational opportunities for women and girls in Afghanistan. Dr. Yacoobi's work has been recognized globally, and she has been a vocal advocate for girls' education in the country. Despite these efforts, the situation for girls' education in Afghanistan remains challenging. According to UNICEF, only 37% of girls in Afghanistan are enrolled in primary school, and the dropout rate is significantly higher for girls than boys. Many girls face discrimination, violence, and threats from extremist groups for attending school, making it difficult for them to access education. There are various perspectives on why girls are denied the right to education in Afghanistan, including traditional gender roles, cultural beliefs, poverty, lack of infrastructure, and security concerns. In some communities, girls are expected to prioritize household chores and caregiving over schooling, perpetuating a cycle of inequality and limiting their opportunities for personal and professional development. One of the characteristics of the Islamic religion is its extraordinary emphasis on the value of the search for knowledge as a cornerstone of faith. This devotion to knowledge is not only a tenet of the faith, but an integral part of its teachings, as emphasized countless times in the Holy Qur'an, where the importance of learning and understanding is emphasized in about five hundred verses. This profound emphasis goes beyond mere encouragement; it is a guiding principle that underlines the fundamental beliefs of Islam. What makes Islam's dedication to education even more remarkable is its inclusive nature. In Islamic tradition, the pursuit of knowledge is not limited to a particular gender; it is a universal right and responsibility that is equally bestowed upon both men and women. This all-encompassing approach underscores the belief that knowledge is a pathway to enlightenment and a means to strengthen one's faith and relationship with the divine. Islam's commitment to education transcends the individual; it is also deeply embedded in the wider social fabric, fostering an environment where learning is valued and actively promoted. This emphasis on education as a core part of Islamic practice testifies to the religion's continuing legacy of intellectual curiosity and scholarly pursuits. By encouraging the pursuit of knowledge among its followers, Islam not only enriches the minds of individuals but also develops a culture of learning that benefits society as a whole and promotes progress, understanding and unity in the community. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself explicitly declared the obligatory nature of seeking knowledge for all Muslims. As narrated in Sahih Bukhari, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon all Muslims. (Sahih Bukhari) “Acquiring knowledge is the duty of every Muslim man and woman.” The Holy Prophet has been instructed in the Qur'an to make this supplication: “O my Lord! Increase my knowledge” (Surah Taha: 1). The hadith clarified that the quest for knowledge is a responsibility shared by every Muslim man and woman alike. This directive aligns with the teachings of the Qur'an, where believers are urged to implore for divine guidance in enhancing their knowledge, as exemplified in the supplication: “O my Lord! Increase my knowledge” (Surah Taha: 1). Therefore, the Islamic faith champions education as a fundamental duty, embodying a holistic approach to learning that transcends gender boundaries and underscores the continuous pursuit of wisdom and enlightenment as a cornerstone of the faith. In conclusion, the denial of education to Muslim girls in Afghanistan goes against the teachings of Islam and the fundamental principles of equality and justice. It is essential to address the root causes of this issue, including poverty, cultural norms, and security concerns, to ensure that all girls have the opportunity to receive a quality education. By investing in girls' education, Afghanistan can unlock their full potential, promote gender equality, and build a more prosperous and peaceful society for all its citizens. It is imperative that governments, civil society organizations, and the international community work together to overcome the barriers to girls' education in Afghanistan and create a brighter future for the next generation. ------- Kaniz Fatma is a classic Islamic scholar and a regular columnist for New Age Islam. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

You're The Bows from Which Your Children as Living Arrows Are Sent Forth

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 25 June 2024 "My father was a renowned medico. But I opted for literature. He never insisted that I should also follow suit. This is what I want the Indian parents to understand. Never impose your will and wish on your offspring. Let them do what they want to. You've lived your life. Now let your children live theirs. Read Kahlil Gibran's immortal poem " On Children " as an everyday ritual for ideal parenting." Actor Saeed Jaffrey in his autobiography, Saeed: An Actor's Journey (1998) -------- This pertains to Nava Thakuria's NEET-UG 2024. In fact, this has been going on for many years. Apart from large scale corruption, governmental apathy, involvement of coaching centres, abysmal standards of education and monomaniac desire to become only doctors and engineers, overwhelming parental pressure is also responsible for this fiasco. Indian parents use their kids as the flag bearers of their (parents) unfulfilled ambitions and aspirations. They can go to any length for the fulfilment of their unfulfilled aspirations and broken dreams. So, they keep pressuring their kids to join coaching classes and study hard to become doctors/engineers without ever bothering about the natural inclinations of their children. These over-ambitious parents never realize that their kids may have seeds of becoming a writer, musician, actor or a singer. Alas, children become carriers of their parents' dreams and join coaching classes to become doctors and engineers, much to their reluctance. After the NEET-NET paper leak incidents, many students, on condition of anonymity, are telling the reporters of newspapers that their parents contacted the agents and gave them money to leak the papers so that they (students) could crack the exams and become doctors. Now students are suffering because of their parents' unethical dreams, desires and demands. They're being sacrificed on the altar of parental dreams which is absolutely unfair, nay, criminal. Is becoming a doctor or engineering the sole purpose of one's life? Aren't there options beyond that? People in India seem to have conditioned themselves to become only doctors, engineers and IAS officers! They splurge money and resort to all unfair means to become doctors. Imagine what will these people do after becoming doctors? They didn't choose the profession out of passion. They became doctors because their parents wanted to make them doctors. Saeed Jaffrey rightly advised these parents to read Gibran's poem 'On Children' as an everyday ritual: "Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams." We need to change our collective mind-set. All such cases of corruption in the field of education will come down drastically, if not vanish overnight. ------- 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