Islam and Pluralism
It is understandable that China is nervous about the spread of Islamist extremism. It has only to look at its own borders to see its consequences in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. The Chinese have complained to Pakistan—a close ally—that it is not doing enough about extremist groups in its tribal areas, where China says Uighur terrorists plot mischief in Xinjiang.
Indonesia has been long heralded as a role model of how Islam and democracy is compatible. Dubbed the third largest democracy in the world, the country has a long tradition that promotes diversity in terms of ethnicity, race and language. It is the Indonesian language that united Indonesians.
New Age Islam keeps posting the views of so many sane Pakistanis that one sometimes starts wondering why should Pakistan be in the state it is in, the state that these sensible people are writing about, if so many of them are so wise and rational. Actually, the sane elements are a hopelessly small minority. This is what they keep bemoaning. The majoritarianism of the majority gets articulated in the country’s dominant Urdu media and thus remains hidden from the majority of readers of New Age Islam. Even in our Urdu section we try to project the saner viewpoints.
I came across today a quite honest, though you might like to call it shameless, exposition of the majoritarian hubris so rampant in Pakistan. This might make those Muslims who live as minorities in most parts of the world today feel a bit grateful that they are not living in a Muslim-majority country and thus cannot nurse such arrogance and stupidity. But, I know, this would also make many Muslims here in India regret their inability to be so conceited and idiotic.
Whatever your reaction, I would like to share this gem of a write-up with you. This was sent as a response to journalist Asif Daar’s latest Dateline London column in Jang: “Inteha pasand Muththi se bahar” (Extremists out of control). I am hoping that our Hindutva readers would skip this page lest they start getting ideas. -- Editor
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam
Muslims are being conditioned to see only the half side of the picture, i.e., only their side of the picture. We are hypocrites; we differentiate between people only because of their belief. We have a right to demand our rights as long as we give others their rights. Our talk of religious freedom is of no avail unless we give others their freedom of religion. I would like to end by quoting a verse from the Quran: Lakum deenakum waleya deen; to you be your way and to me mine”. But the irony is that some Muslims are not willing to accept this as a valid or legitimate part of Quran. One frequent commenter on New Age Islam … says in a recent post: “What you and Janab Yunus sahib(1) and some others are expressing is based on Meccan verses. Unfortunately Meccan verses are abrogated by Medinian verses. Lakum Deenikum waleya deen does not hold water because later verses say that only acceptable religion is Islam in the eyes of Allah. I am not alone in this world to have this view. Quran is, according to Muslims, for every place and time. So are the Medinian verses.”
So, you can see, we Muslims have a long way to go in sorting out our myriad problems. As the editor of this website Mr. Sultan Shahin once told the Muslim world from the august forum of the United Nations and I am paraphrasing: “We Muslims have not done our home work for almost millennia. We better join the task with utmost seriousness and urgency.”
A Sindh without its Hindus will not be Sindh, for Hindu Sindhis, like Muslims, are the children of the soil. If the Muslim Sindhis closed their eyes and let the forced migration of Hindus continue unabated, then they, too, should better start looking for a place to migrate to. Sindhi Muslims, being Sufis by nature, are the real target. Actually, all thinking, feeling, non-conforming, people of the country are the target of discrimination.
The spirit of Idul Fitri encourages Muslims to renew their relationships with relatives. They are enthusiastic about visiting parents, siblings, friends and neighbors. Idul Fitri is believed to be a day when God Allah will erase all sins, as long as Muslims express repentance and ask for forgiveness from others. On that day, most Muslims think positively about others. They imagine that all Muslims are brothers, so that they have to love each other, regardless of ethnicity, social class, political affiliation and madzhab (school of law).
The migration and self-exile of a 100 Hindu families seems to have hit the headlines in both India and Pakistan. The story angered Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who, as is his nature, over-reacted by trying to stop Hindu pilgrims going to India out of fear that these people were using the pilgrimage as an excuse to slip into India and seek asylum. This, according to Malik, would naturally bring a bad name to Pakistan. Hence for him, this is nothing more than a conspiracy to malign Pakistan. The Federal Investigation Agency, which comes under Malik’s ministry, and is responsible for immigration issues, reported to its boss that agents were misleading the Hindu families and encouraging them to seek asylum. But what Malik seems to struggle to hide is the fact that Hindu migration is not a new phenomenon. It is that Islamabad seems to have noticed it just now. According to civil society and human rights activists in Sindh, there has been a slow and gradual move by Hindus to migrate from Pakistan. According to one estimate, there are 4.5 million Hindus in Pakistan, most of whom are concentrated in Sindh, especially Hyderabad-Karachi, Tharparkat, Mithi, Mirpur Khas, Shikarpur and Sukkur. The more affluent ones tend to migrate legally.
In any case the situation is indeed far graver than it has ever been presented in the media or elsewhere. The time for dealing with it through sermons or flat denials is past. Nothing will be gained by running news on TV to the effect that Hindus, Sikhs and Christians are buying national flags as enthusiastically as patriotic Muslims, though it may well be true. The time has come for the state to undertake a thorough reappraisal of whatever is amiss in law and social practice with regard to the right of minorities to be treated as equal citizens of Pakistan.
Pope Kyrillos V, born Yohanna in the town of Beni Sweif in 1831, lived through turmoil, revolution and wars. He became the 112th pope of the Coptic Church in 1874 and held the post until he died in 1927 at the age of 96, making him the longest-serving pope in the history of the Church. The name Kyrillos, which means master in Greek, is popular in the Coptic Church, where clerics associate it with biblical accounts of the life of Joseph.
Aziz Ali Dad
One of the challenges faced by modern societies was the issue of pluralism that is described as “a state of society in which members of diverse social groups develop their traditional cultures or special interests within a common civilisation.” The contours of the modern discourse on pluralism were shaped during the late 19th century in the United States of America. ...
Yasser Latif Hamdani
The ‘Destruction of Pakistan Council’ (DPC) is said to be behind the rickshaw marketing campaign that states: ‘Bharat se rishta kiya, nafrat ka intiqam kiya’... How then would this be Ijtihad? Remember there is a hadith of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) that the ummah cannot err in consensus. Can a few unelected public servants and their favourite religious scholars shape this consensus? No. It is tantamount to closing the door of Ijtihad altogether and empowering a few men with a divine mission to rule against the will of the majority based on selective religious interpretation....
Muslims are brothers of other Muslims wherever they are. The report says that countries must think twice before giving citizenship to any Muslim because even though he may be following customs and rituals of that country as a citizen, one day he will certainly come under the influence of militant teachings of Islam and follow this guideline of his religious book, Quran, “O YOU who have attained to faith! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for your allies: they are but allies of one another. (Surah: 5:51) It is a harsh reality that certain Ulema have, knowingly or unknowingly, done great damage to Islam. These Ulema are presenting Islam to non-Muslims, western countries and America as an intolerant and confrontational religion. We must bring basic changes in this attitude by reforming ourselves....
Islamic scholar Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
Executive Summary: The paper begins with an introduction to the Qur’anic warnings against the Christians and the Jews (1) but without going into details, comes straight to its concluding exhortations on religious tolerance (2) and to its concluding message on religious pluralism (3). Sub-heading (4) captures the Qur’an’s approval of some of the People of the Book (Christians and Jews). The discourse then jumps to the Qur’an’s common criteria of divine Judgment for all believing communities, (5) and complements this with arguments that refute any Qur’anic basis for inter-faith enmity or hatred (6). Its concluding sub-heading (7) demonstrates that there is no Qur’anic basis to prohibit the construction of churches, synagogues or any houses of pure worship in Muslim countries – an issue that concerns all minorities in the Muslim countries today and conceivably results from a deep fear of the Muslim theologians and leadership of their youth abandoning an exclusive, atavistic and globally trivialized faith to live more comfortably in the pluralistic and progressive society of the secular world without the tag of Islam branding them as anything but noble. The sub-headings speak for themselves and conclusively establish the theme of this article.
A few Muslim scholars from our past have duped us in believe that God is hateful to others... God ain't. God is neither a villain nor a bad guy. God is kind, merciful and just and wants his creation to get along and live in harmony. There are many verses that guide one to be righteous. We should not accept any translation of Quran that makes God a villain of his own creation. Those translations reduce him to Rabbul Muslimeen from Aalameen....
Today, a glance at headlines around the globe leads one to believe that Islamism is pitted against secularism in the battle for control over the new Arab world. This rise of Islamists clearly stokes fear in the West and leaves many clamouring for the good ol’ days when the good ol’ boys were in charge. This is not a clash between Islam and the rest — this is a battle for pluralism. It pits the believers in pluralism from both secular and Islamist camps against those who cling to outdated notions of exclusion or superiority....
Dr. Adis Duderija
Great economic disparities between the majority world of the poor South and the minority world of the rich North. According to Safi this “Empire’ consists of a multitude of forces “among them the oppressive and environmentally destructive forces of multi-national corporations whose interests are now linked to those of neo-imperial, unilateral governments…..that put profit before human rights and ‘strategic interest’ before the dignity of every human being.”....
The term untouchable itself is vile word, and it can have a psychological impact on someone to whom it is being applied. It is a word which does not take into account the personal history of an individual. One can even suggest that a word like this can lead someone to suicide or to some criminal activity. Every religion of the world gives a message of peace, equality and unity. Religion and the secular thought teaches us that every man and woman is equal in the eyes of Lord…
Various Islamic scholars agree on the point that the meaning of the Ayats concerning close interaction and intimacy (Mawalat) should be considered in the true perspective and background of its revelation, taking it in a generalized way will not be appropriate, but it hampers its significance. “Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity”. (Surah Al-Mumtahanah V-8) -- Waris Mazhari, Translated by NewAgeIslam.com Edit Desk
Such cross-cultural evidence in Maltese towns with Arabic names like Mdina (not Medina) and Rabat, and a statue of the Virgin Mary on a church's baroque facade described in the inscription as “Sultanah“, make one wonder whether this little Mediterranean archipelago of three small islands is the forerunner of global universalism in which languages enrich each other and racial frontiers slowly fade out. - Sunanda K. Datta-Ray
Scholars will dwell upon his attribute of Rahmatalil Aalemeen (‘Mercy for all the worlds’ —including those of the birds and beasts, of insects and worms, etc.), because a Muslim is adjoined to not hurt any living being except in the way of God. Scholars will explain what the Prophet said to his followers about how to treat women, how to interact with people of other faiths and how to carry oneself in one’s everyday life. -- S G. Geelani
The event of the conquest of Makkah was another instance of the Prophet’s pluralistic and humanistic approach. After the conquest he not only granted amnesty to the people of Makkah but also declared the house of his bitter opponent Abu Sufyan as a place of asylum and peace, regardless of who accepted Islam and who didn’t. -- Muhammad Ali
He was perhaps the only prominent Muslim of his generation to publicly champion the radical thinking of Tilak, writing glowingly about him in his journal. He also wrote many verses praising him, including the following at his demise:
jab tak wo rahe dunyā meN rahā ham sab ke diloN par zor unkā
ab rah ke bahisht meN nizd-i-khudā hūroN pe kareNge rāj Tilak
There was one more way in which Hasrat was a maverick: he wrote verses expressing deep love for Krishna, and often went to Mathura to celebrate Janmashtami. -- C.M. Naim (Photo: Hasrat Mohani and Dr B R Ambedkar)
If this isn’t the society you wish for yourself and your children, why contribute in making it that way for the ‘other’? Why then the apathy when it comes the other? It’s the Christians, the Shias and the Ahmadis now. It will not be too long till this blind, raging hatred engulfs us all too. If we don’t find it in ourselves to stand against bigotry, to express outrage against this barbarism, to be compassionate towards those that suffer than we’d be well on our way towards self-destruction. Heck, we’re already there. -- Sana Saleem
In Britain, getting married is no longer a prerequisite for sharing a bed or living together. Marriage has become a 'partnership' and living together 'cohabiting'. According to the Office for National Statistics in 2009, 10 per cent of couples were cohabiting, most of whom were believed to be of 'no-religion'. Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus are unlikely to be cohabiting. As women assert more religious and cultural influence over children during their early socialisation, commonality of religious faith is considered particularly salient for women. In this respect, Muslim women show stronger religious commitment than Sikh and Hindu women. As religious affiliation declines, ethnic importance in marriage declines too, hence the likelihood of more inter-ethnic marriages in the future. -- Dr Ramindar Singh MBE
If only Pakistan imposes a true Islamic system, we’ll be able to get rid of the hypocrisies committed in its name.’ Of course, such suggestions are proposed by fellow Pakistanis. The other comment is usually from readers in India or the West. It’s a simple question: ‘Why are Pakistanis always so engrossed in religion?’ We have to finally recognise (on an official level) that we live in a land of many ethnicities and multiple interpretations of Islam. This phenomenon has to be harnessed and celebrated, not repressed or be afraid of. This very repression has produced nothing but an ideological neurosis that we suffer from today. -- Nadeem F. Paracha