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Happy Independence Day 2014

My dear Fellow Indians, Congratulations!  As we proudly celebrate our 68 years of independence,  we must com mitt ourselves to genuinely free ourselves from pettiness, free ourselves from our prejudices towards fellow beings, free ourselves from treating a fellow Indian less than ourselves and we must certainly shelve the arrogance that God favours us and not others. We must also commit to defend the freedom of others, we must cherish the otherness of others and let everyone freely breath, drink, eat, wear or believe whatever suits them, and crush the thoughts of forcing others to behave the way we want them to behave. No one shall be a slave in free India. An Indian is an Indian is an Indian, period.

As a nation, collectively we are Adivasis, Atheists, Bahais, Bos, Buddhists, Christians, Dalits, Hindus, Jains, Jewish, Muslim, Sikhs, Tribals, Zoroastrians and every possible grouping. We are Brown, Black, White, Yellow and green with envy, magar phir bhi dil hai Hindustani.

In Pakistan the Lemming Effect Is Very Real
Kamila Hyat

In our own country, however, the lemming effect is very real. We seem to suffer from a collective death wish, determined to create mayhem and destruction.....

Pakistan as I know It
Erum Qalbani

Ordinary Pakistanis, such as I, value their Islamic beliefs, are God fearing and follow what is essentially a continuation of the centuries old traditions of spirituality that survives in the folk idiom, in the Kaafis of Bulleh Shah, and in the verses of Bhitai and Rahman Baba. Our proverbs, day-to-day beliefs are all mixed and laced with history, oral tradition, Sufi lore and of course Islamic simplicity.  It is another matter that there are individuals who want to hijack this thread…..

 

And Another Long March
Khaled Ahmed

That leaves Qadri — also called Sheikh-ul-Islam, a status probably stemming from a dream he once had in which the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) “chose” him as his deputy after rejecting all the other schools of thought in Pakistan’s religious hierarchy — and his “movement” based on revolutionary pledges that would put India’s Arvind Kejriwal to shame: employment for all, free education, free health, free housing and free food if someone goes hungry......

 

'Live! Long March! Breaking News! Breaking Cars!'
Nadeem F. Paracha

Lahore is in Pakistan, Bashir. It is? Yes. Damn. Why wasn’t I told? It seems neither was the Information Ministry. You are right. Because the press statement was also in Arabic. In fact I have it with me here. Its heading says: Bress Statement of Al-Brime Khalifah Minister Al-Bakistania wal Shiekh Nawaz bin Sharif-ul-Jeddah Marhaba Marhaba Emirates Airline EK-450 Is Ready for Boarding …..

 

Pakistan: Denial and Deception
Husain Haqqani

Calls for change of government, even if it is only a few months after its election, serve as a substitute for serious debate about how Pakistan may have lost its direction as a nation. There is virtual denial about real problems like rising extremism, increasing intolerance, widespread violence and the prospect of global isolation. Denial leads to self-deception….

 

Shiites in India Want To Join the Fight against the Islamic State in Iraq
Ishaan Tharoor

The hubris of the extremists has angered many Muslims. In the face of the Islamic State's onslaught, Shiites elsewhere in the world have watched as some of the holiest shrines in their brand of Islam risk coming under attack from emboldened Sunni jihadists. In recent weeks in India, which is home to some 30 million to 50 million Shiites, thousands of Shiites have reportedly signed up with a Delhi-based Shiite organization, pledging to protect the Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala, cities that receive millions of Shiite pilgrims every year…..

 

Palestine a Human Question
Javed Anand

In India, in sharp contrast to the decades-old national consensus, the new National Democratic Alliance government did not even allow a discussion on the issue in Parliament though it had to bow to global sentiment in the UN and vote with the overwhelming majority of member countries in censuring Israel. Outside Parliament, many secular groups have organised pro-Palestine solidarity marches in different parts of the country. But to anyone who reads Urdu papers it appears that for far too many Indian Muslims, Palestine is a religious problem…..

 

.... the support for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Indonesia that has been gaining traction as of late has been nothing but a crisis for democracy, a display of disenfranchised masses attacking its core values and calling for alternative extremes.  Even outside of the ISIL supporters, renowned Islamic commentators have quoted how democracy has been “excessive”, how wars and other violent movements are a product of too much freedom of opinion……

 

Hiroshima Day 2014: How Many Minutes to Midnight?
Noam Chomsky

If some extraterrestrial species were compiling a history of Homo sapiens, they might well break their calendar into two eras: BNW (before nuclear weapons) and NWE (the nuclear weapons era).  The latter era, of course, opened on August 6, 1945, the first day of the countdown to what may be the inglorious end of this strange species, which attained the intelligence to discover the effective means to destroy itself, but -- so the evidence suggests -- not the moral and intellectual capacity to control its worst instincts......

 

It's no secret that Pakistan's outlook and relations with the world have been influenced heavily by global heavyweights such as the US and Saudi Arabia. As always - and unlike Pakistan - Saudi Arabia has chosen to stay silent on the thorny issue of Gaza rather than risk offending the western superpowers…..

 

He is threatening a storm akin to the one that overthrew the regime and political system in Egypt three years ago. But the experience of Egypt is instructive. The army was called out in aid of civil power to protect the Hosni Mubarak regime from popular discontent on the streets but soon thereafter ousted the regime on the pretext of holding new elections and subsequently seized power on its own account. Much the same thing happened in Pakistan in 1977.....

 

Restoring the people's confidence in the judiciary requires the establishment of a class of pro-democracy and pluralistic judges who serve no political party, organization or interest groups but the law itself. This is what Turkey witnessed today…..

 

Bangladesh wants to become a middle-income country by 2021. You need to create wealth. Yes, you have been achieving annual growth of 5.5% for the last 15 years. But a certain part of the population – based on caste, geographical location, level of education and the underprivileged – cannot get benefit of this growth. Our goal is to empower the underprivileged population to take their share in the growth of the economy, not just to give them subsidy…..

 

Sultan Shahin sends Eid greetings to New Age Islam Readers from Khwaja Ghareeb Nawaz’s Shrine in Ajmer
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

Muslims around the world are celebrating this Eid in the middle of a Takfiri war in different parts of the world. Iraqi and Syrian Muslims have suffered the most. With the Islamist terrorists establishing what they call a Khilafat under Al-Qaeda leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the situation has become even more grim. On the other hand Arab Muslims have left Palestinians to face Israeli bombings under an uncompromising Islamist Hamas leadership which will not listen to reason. I hope the month of Ramazan has been used by the global Muslim community for some serious reflection on how to come out of the crisis posed by the growing cancer of extremism among us. As we celebrate Eid, let us be mindful of those in the Middle East who are grieving and suffering.

May I leave you with a thought for the day of Eid. A Quranic verse encouraging, exhorting the much needed, most urgent, introspection, self-critism for the Muslim community.

O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnessed to God, even as against yourself, or your parents, or your kin. (Quran 4: 135)

Wishing a very happy, blessed Eid to all New Age Islam readers.

Sultan Shahin

Eid Not-So-Mubarak
Mustafa Akyol

Eid Not-So-Mubarak
Mustafa Akyol

However, deep down in my heart, I know this Eid (or Bayram, as we say in Turkish) is not much of a blessed one for the global Muslim community. The reason is that, first, there horrible injustices done to our co-religionists. Secondly, there are horrible injustices done by our co-religionists…..

 

Stop the Jew-Hatred and Build Palestine
Tarek Fatah

Whichever side of the Arab-Israeli conflict one stands on, you cannot deny the courage and perseverance of the Palestinian people. For generations, they have lived as stateless citizens, on one hand standing up to Israel, which controls their day-to-day lives, and on the other enduring their own leadership, that has betrayed them at every opportunity. It is sad to see their century-long quest for statehood crippled by the evil of Hamas that has turned the legitimate Palestinian national struggle into an Islamic Jihad against Jews…..

If The EU Could Do It
Khaled Ahmed

“Pakistanis, by and large, have developed a highly cynical and negative psyche. Insecurity of the state, that is, the fear of re-absorption by India, the experience of [the] separation of East Pakistan, the poor track record of the credibility of our successive leaders have all contributed to this psyche. But this is harmful in the long run, as lack of national self-esteem becomes a barrier to national development.”.....

 

Tarek Fatah’s Musings
Tarek Fatah

For a person whose own parents migrated from India in 1947 and found freedom and prosperity in Pakistan, who commenced his career here, such vitriolic comments are one sided. Perhaps the erudite scholar needs to do some soul searching instead of playing to the gallery and present an objective picture rather than flow with the Pakistan-bashers’ tide in his musings. …..

The Dark Reality of the Virtual World
Sidharth Bhatia

It is not enough to have cyber cells, the police has to be trained in how to handle the digital universe and the public needs to be given confidence that any genuine complaint will be followed up Even a casual user of social media, especially Facebook and Twitter would have come across nasty elements who spew abuse and sometimes, threats.....

 

In what is perhaps the first admission of its kind, the police have concluded that there is a trust deficit among Muslims, who see them as “communal, biased and insensitive…. ill-informed, corrupt and lacking professionalism”......

Gods on Earth: Shankaracharya Says No To Worship of Sai Baba
Ram Puniyani

Last three decades in particular while on one hand one saw the plethora of Godmen like Mahesh Yogi, Rajneesh, J. Krishnamurthy, Aasaram Bapu, Satya Sai Baba (Bhagwan) coming to the fore, the popularity of Sai Baba of Shirdi and Mata Vaishno Devi has gone up exponentially. Bhagwan Satya Sai, who died few years ago, had vast following and he was regarded as the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba. At the same time Shirdi Sai pilgrimage became very popular and his temples came up in most cities. Sai Baba of Shirdi has a beautiful syncretic background. While he was born in a Muslim family he came up more in Sufi tradition and intermingled with equal affection amongst Hindus as well as Muslims. His major focus was bringing Hindus and Muslims together. One major landmark in his life will give the essence of his efforts. In 1896 he instituted the annual Sufi ‘Urs' festival with the explicit purpose of bringing these two communities together....

 

“Barring Tamil Nadu, police forces of all states suffer from this adverse perception about them,” says the report. The community questions nearly every police action, the report says. “Dispersal of crowds and use of force, arrests of accused, registration of criminal offences, applications of sections of law, preventive arrests, enforcement of curfew and providing security to minority members are some of the issues which are viewed with suspicion and allegations of unprofessional and prejudiced conduct made.”….

“Muslims will be treated as common citizens -- nothing more, nothing less. And, they must learn to respect Hindu sentiments. If they keep opposing Hindus, how long can they survive?” said the 88-year-old who has been a lifelong Pracharak of the RSS, the ideological parent of the BJP. Asked to elaborate, Singhal said Muslims should give up claims over Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura and also accept a uniform civil code......

 
Forbidden Pages
A.G. Noorani

Forbidden Pages
A.G. Noorani

Neither Jinnah nor the sponsors of the law would have imagined that nearly a century later, Section 295-A, would be invoked against a historian of repute Wendy Doniger. Her work is entitled The Hindus: An Alternative History. The very subtitle suggests an effort at an original interpretation even as her doctorates in Sanskrit and Indian Studies testify to certain empathy for Hindu thought.....

 
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