Books and Documents
Islam and Politics

Political Islam: An Evolutionary History
Nadeem F. Paracha

The term ‘Political Islam’ is an academic concoction. It works as an analytical umbrella under which political analysts club together various political tendencies that claim to be using Muslim scriptures and historical traditions to achieve modern political goals…..


Success of the State Has More to Do with Justice than Religion
Azis Anwar Fachrudin

After a tense relationship, the revelation instructed them to break up the alliances. The contextual narrative of the revelation (Asbab An-Nuzul) can be read in Tafsir at-Tabari, the oldest interpretation of the Quran. By looking at the substance and the interlocutors of the verse, it is clear that the context in Medina with authority over the so-called Islamic Ummah was focused only on the Prophet and cannot simply be transplanted in this age, in the context of the nation-state in which all religions are equal before the law, let alone a democratic system in which the executive has only one-third of power. By applying past political systems built upon religious community, we are essentially going back to the medieval age….


Malala Yousafzai and the Future of Islam
Stephen Schwartz

Notwithstanding the abominable condition of women in many Muslim, as well as non-Muslim, societies around the world, Islam includes important factors for women's rights. One of the fundamental changes in Arabia after the revelation of Muhammad was the abolition of the abhorrent practice of female infanticide, which had been common since girl children were considered a burden. As stated in Qur'an (81:8-9), at the end of time, "the female child who was buried alive will ask for what crime she was killed.".....


Growing Radicalisation of the Indian Youth
Sandhya Jain

Maulana Salman al-Husaini Nadwi of the Lucknow-based Nadwatul Ulema wrote an enthusiastic letter to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after he overran Iraqi cities, massacring hundreds, razing shrines of Shias and Sunnis (for idolatry), and forcing Christians out of Mosul. This provoked the Delhi-based Anjuman-e-Haideri (a Shia body) to advertise in Urdu dailies for volunteers to visit Iraq, ostensibly as nurses, doctors and engineers to help Iraqi Shias, but in reality to defend shrines such as Karbala. Around one Lakh registered, and 6000 applied for Iraq visas. A startling 25 per cent of the volunteers were women…..

Islam for Peace, or Violence?
Javed Anand

One, do not “essentialise” religion. Remember that Gandhi’s Gita and Azad’s Quran do not say the same thing as the Gita of Nathuram Godse and the Quran of Osama bin Laden or “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Like other religions, there is no one Islam; there are many Islams.  Two, look at the history of a religion. Islam is over 1,400 years old. Remember that the Yazidis and Christians being butchered by the barbaric IS used to be free, relatively at least, to practise their faith in that very region for centuries under Muslim rulers. Jews hounded out of Christian Europe found refuge in the Ottoman Empire.  Three, beware of “catastrophic” over-generalisations. Yes, al-Baghdadi and Ayman al-Zawahiri are Muslims, but so are Nobel Peace Laureates Shirin Ebadi and Malala Yousafzai, and our very own Aamir Khan……

Does The Arab World Hate Us, The Gulfies?
Mohammed Fahad al-Harthi

Some Arabs appear to view their brethren in the Gulf States quite negatively despite the large numbers of them employed in the region, which has helped to boost struggling economies. There has even been the quite bizarre situation where there was less sympathy for Kuwait when it was invaded. Quite the opposite, there appeared to be warmer feelings toward the aggressor….


‘Boxed and Packaged Islam’ Trying to Pass Itself Off as Mainstream Islam
Raheel Raza

Since then this brand of Islam has taken on a modern, moderate look; it is "the new normal." Today, it is being exported largely from Saudi Arabia on the wings of billions of petro-dollars in an unobtrusive packaging. Case in point. There is a version of the Quran that is given away free at Dundas Square in Toronto, where the opening prayer has been tampered with. The original ends with the words "keep us on the straight path and not the path of those who have gone astray." For the "Dundas" version have been added the words: "like the Jews and Christians."

This brand of Boxed and Packaged Islam has been so cleverly and cunningly marketed through the Mosque pulpit, print and electronic media that most Muslims do not even know what has hit them. It is beamed directly into their homes and hearts; they are not encouraged to dissent. This point was made by the Imam on the talk show: he said that Muslims should not speak out on Western media about sectarian issues or about violence within the faith. He went on to say that those Muslims who do speak out are liars desperately seeking limelight. So most Muslims either stay silent or deflect the problems into conspiracy theories.....

Though, in terms of coverage, a fractional, violent minority garners most American and European headlines, India’s large and growing community of moderate Muslims should stand as evidence of Islam’s moderate, un-radicalized majority. And in a time where South Asians of all creeds are often stereotyped and discriminated against, and even killed, because of the actions of that radical few, India’s Muslims are a 180 million-strong rebuttal......

Lessons of Gaza
Julien Salingue

There is nothing "maximalist" or "radical" in such demands, which simply reflect the minimum necessary for the subsistence of the people of Gaza, and which are recognized as legitimate by all international organizations. It is these demands that Israel refused to listen to, demonstrating once again that what the occupying power refuses, in the name of its alleged security, is not the satisfaction of Palestinian national rights….

Deadly Alliances against Muslims
New York Times Editorial

It is folly for the governments of Mr. Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka, President Thein Sein of Myanmar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India, or their political allies, to give even the appearance of tolerating these Islamophobic groups in a region that has too often been convulsed by religious sectarian violence. They should condemn this mad alliance before it can spread further......


The Post-ISIS Crisis for Sunni Governments
Abdulrahman al-Rashed

There is hope that the danger will be curbed despite the differences and the difficulty of dealing with terrorist groups. The current anti-ISIS alliance is a political, legal and military framework that can be developed to find solutions for the root causes by ending regional political competition, curbing sectarian struggle and ending the likes of the Syrian regime. Without that, stances may change, the alliance may divide, the struggle may expand and different parties will engage in regional proxy wars in which everyone uses terrorist groups to serve their aims……


The rise of IS in Iraq constitutes a challenge both to the current system of nation-states regionally and to Muslim identity and organisation globally.  In both cases the BRICS have shown a consensus with the US and the West, which is opposed to the rise of IS in Iraq and its global jihadist rhetoric.  Militarily the US remains the hegemonic power in the region and has reinforced this through its recent air strikes against IS.  The BRICS – and especially China – have either been willing to follow that course or have demurred.  Such sentiments strongly suggest that the BRICS do not want to see any significant change to the current international status quo….....

Support Allies, Not Terrorists
Shoshana Bryen

If Kobani is shamefully not on their minds, at least a few points might be considered before running billions of dollars more through the corrupt and kleptocratic Palestinian Authority.....


Chinese and Uyghur historical narratives have been a source of contention. Uyghurs have suffered from state repression on the basis of cultural, linguistic, and religious rights and been disadvantaged by a number of prejudicial economic policies that favor the majority Han. While Uyghur grievances have sparked unrest in the past, the recent increase of violence is startling. While the Chinese government has been quick to blame this spate of violence on Islamic radicalization and incitement by foreign forces…..


Liberal ideas become a synonym for heresy, and truth becomes Truth – just one single interpretation of events, the discretion over which lies only with the state – be it Nazriya-i-Pakistan, the controversial 8th Amendment, the 2nd Amendment or the military's influence within the state, that “Truth” cannot be challenged. Pakistanis must tell themselves that though conservatism is acceptable, far-right extremism is not. The opposition of liberalism is more structural than anything else….


Atheism, Islam and Liberalism: This Is What We Are Really Fighting About
Andrew O' Hehir

Viewed through the long lens of history, fundamentalism is almost certainly a sign of religion’s decline and weakness, rather than the opposite. That doesn’t mean that violent splinter groups like ISIS are not dangerous, or that Christian fundamentalism at home does not pose political problems. But the exaggerated fear response of many liberal Westerners reflects our own culture’s weakness and moral uncertainty, not the strength of its enemies…..

Similarities between Crusaders and Zionists
Uri Anvery

Israel suffers from a deep-seated sense of existential insecurity, which finds its expression in myriad forms. Since Israel is in many ways a conspicuous success story and a world-class military power, this sense of insecurity often gives rise to wonderment. I believe that its root is this feeling of not belonging to the region in which we live, of being a villa in the jungle, which really means being a fortified ghetto in the region. It could be said that this feeling is natural, since most Israelis are of European descent. But that is not true. 20 percent of Israeli citizens are Arabs…..

Saudis against the ISIS: Sea Change?
Dr Mohammad Taqi

The Wahhabi kingdom has been the chief exporter of Islamist extremism since its inception — 17 of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudi after all — and were it to reverse its patronage of terrorism it would be a most welcome move. Saudi anxiety is palpable but it is not out of compassion for the victims of ISIS’s grotesquely brutal war. Over 2,000 Saudi nationals have reportedly been fighting alongside ISIS and the Riyadh regime is worried about the twin threat that some of them or their fellow travellers within the kingdom and ISIS knocking at its north-western borders might pose. This would not be the first time the house of Saud feels the heat from the jihadist fires it has been stoking as far out as Afghanistan and Pakistan. ....

Israel’s Occupation is More Complex than a Genocide
Jonathan Cook

One day doubtless, a historian will coin a word to describe Israel’s unique strategy of incrementally destroying the Palestinian people. Sadly, by then it may be too late to help the Palestinians.....


How Turkey Repeated US Mistakes in Afghanistan
Mustafa Akyol

US policy in the 1980s, which focused exclusively on the USSR, or the “evil empire” as President Ronald Reagan called it, backfired in the ensuing years. Washington failed to calculate that the mujahedeen it beefed up could one day turn against it. It was a typical case of “unintended consequences,” a rule often overlooked in politics. Yet, conspiracy-prone minds tend to believe “unintended consequences” are actually intended and even diligently planned. That’s why Turkish conspiracy theorists obsessed with the “green belt project” insist seeing al-Qaeda as an “American puppet.”….


Liberal Democracy, a Solution for Yemen and Other Arab Republics
Jamal Khashoggi

Truth be told, the only magical formula for Yemen and other Arab republics is democracy but I don't expect the Gulf Cooperation Council or the Arab League to make such a specific decision. Why? Because most Arab countries have problems with democracy that must be finalized by politicians first before being finalized by political intellectuals and elites who have now buckled under a general collapse which has struck many Arab countries. No one has presented an alternative mission in the Arab world other than war, confrontations, appeals, condemnations and hopes…


The passing of Qanun Jinayat, an Islamic criminal code bylaw, by the Aceh legislative council has revived discussion on the formalization of Sharia. This bylaw or Qanun is among serial efforts of such formalization in Aceh since the enactment of Law No. 44/1999 on Aceh’s special autonomy……


Lingering Palestinian Hopes, Shattered Palestinian Dreams
Daoud Kuttab

Research about divorce had produced an interesting fact: Khula’, the right of women to divorce their husbands, was apparently granted in Gaza, although few women knew that they had that right and fewer actually used it. Nisaa Gaza never had a chance to inform the audience about this important discovery……


Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabaab in Kenya and other al-Qaeda related affiliates, often carry the combination of Islamic, local, sectarian, tribal, national, regional and international grievances. They continue to testify the resilience, sustenance and appeal of extremist Islamist ideology to a section of urban Muslim youths, regardless of the powerful and relentless international and Islamic condemnations against them. Boko Haram, a Nigerian Islamic terrorist outfit, shocked the world when it kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls. As the “theatre of war” led by the United States looms large in the Middle East with the specific purpose of liquidating the IS, questions remained whether such a military exercise will achieve the desired goals or end up alienating more Sunni Muslim Arabs.....


The Few Brave Men of Turkey
Burak Bekdil

It declared the Islamic caliphate in the lands it captured and has since killed tens of thousands of "infidels," including, primarily, Shia Muslims. It has beheaded the Western captives it held, declaring them casualties in its jihad against the Christian world. Its methods of imposing Salafism were denounced as "too extreme" even by al-Qaeda. Against this backdrop, a recent survey by the prominent Turkish pollsters Metropoll found that 84% of the Turks think that ISIL (or IS) "is not acting on religious motives." Almost a third of the Turks think that the Islamists, with whom they now share a 900-mile border, do not pose a security threat to their country....

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