Books and Documents
Islam and Politics

I do not think so, but Bangladesh has been one of the examples tending to say I am wrong. One thing Osama bin Laden succeeded in doing was destroying whatever small progress various Muslim polities had made toward modern popular government. It may have been that all he had to do was stick one in the eye of the dominating western paradigm to give new heart to the suppressed feelings we call Salafist, but whatever the mechanism was, the status of Muslim governments has deteriorated steadily in the past dozen years….

With Osama bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda in disarray, moderate Muslims were set to reclaim the much maligned political Islam from extremists. The sight of articulate young Muslims with their Blackberrys and iPhones yearning for change and pushing for a radical break with the past mesmerised the world. Even card-carrying Islamophobes were forced into rethinking their pet theories about Islam…

Democracy at Risk in Bangladesh
Sreeram Chaulia

An uncontested re-election does not tell us what the majority of Bangladeshis want—change of government or continuity with the incumbent. Ultimately, the choice rests with the people of Bangladesh and India must ensure they are being empowered to pick their own rulers….


The Anatomy of Hatred and Pitfalls of Democracy
Inas Younis, New Age Islam

The kind of oppression which leads to hatred and envy is not the kind which breaks a man’s back, but the kind which breaks his spirit.  And the only way to break a man’s spirit is to arbitrarily and continually change the rules of survival.  It is a political tactic designed to poison the most honourable man and totally corrupt the average one. In a system governed by unpredictable laws, clinging to one’s “group”, where there is at least an implicit and socially enforced code of conduct,   becomes critical to one’s sanity....

Sudhakar Group and Maulana Muniruzzaman Islamabadi Interpreted Islam in Bangla to ‘Cleanse the Faith of Islam’ From the Influences of Hinduism and Christianity - Part 17
Nurul Kabir

BESIDES the Sudhakar group, there were some other Islamic pundits, such as Moulana Muniruzzaman Islamabadi (1875-1950), who engaged themselves in analysing as well as interpreting Islamic faith in the mother tongue to ‘cleanse the faith of Islam’ from the influences of Hinduism and Christianity. Muniruzzaman Islamabadi was a highly politicised Moulana, who was active in the anti-colonial movement led by the Indian National Congress...


The Defeat and Retreat of Hinduism
Ram Jethmalani

The fourth Caliph, Ali bin Abi Talib, a cousin of the Prophet, who lived in his house and was most loved by him, is said to appreciate the fact that "The land where books were first written and from where wisdom and knowledge were born is India." Strong sections of Islamic tradition acknowledged the high respect and affection that Arabs had for India. Umar, the second Rashid of the Rashidun Caliphate was opposed to attacking India, even when he was told that "Indian rivers are pearls, her mountains rubies, her trees perfumes," for he regarded India as a country of complete freedom of thought and belief where Muslims and others were free to practice their faith….


When A Party Loses Its Marbles . . .
Syed Badrul Ahsan

THE elder child of General Ziaur Rahman and Khaleda Zia is back in the news. Nothing wrong there, except that he has once again begun to inject negativity into Bangladesh's politics and this time from a safe haven abroad. He has, out of the blue, sought to inform people that the 1972 constitution did not reflect the aspirations of the people of Bangladesh. You sense a serious misreading of history here. Worse, you wonder why a young man who imagines for himself a role in the politics of the future would come forth with such a poor sense of history. Or it could be that it is all a plan of subverting our national history yet one more time….


Maulana Maudoodi of Jamaat-i-Islami and Syed Qutub would be pleased to see today the influence of  Modern Political Islam they founded in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, etc

IF MAULANA MAUDOODI, one of two or three people who gave birth to modern political Islam, were to travel through the Muslim world now, he would find some mildly pleasant and very unpleasant surprises. Some 35 years after his death, the political movement he founded, Jamaat-i-Islami, remains an influential force in Pakistan, especially in the area bordering Afghanistan. In Bangladesh, meanwhile, the movement's leaders.…


Pakistan’s Diplomacy of Friend-Making
Dr Adil Najam

Saudi petrodollars have been a dependable source of emergency cash for Pakistan. Third, the Saudis have taken in battalions of Pakistani labour who are the source of massive remittance flows to Pakistan....

Control by civilians present two challenges. For mature democracies like the west, where civilian control has historically been strong and military establishments have focused on external defence only. And the fledgling democracy like Bangladesh, with scant experiences in combining popular government and civilian control, face tougher challenges. They must ensure that the military will not attempt a coup d’état, or otherwise defy civilian authority….


In some circumstances, our real choices between national security and moral consequences will be between controlled and uncontrolled liberties. We will be wasting time and lives in pretending differently. In the fight against terrorism, some of the world’s most established democracies did not shy away, at times, from doing what they thought is necessary; in many cases their choices were shocking to any idealist. Unfortunately, we live in those awful times….


Muzaffarnagar: From Displacement to Disappearance
Farah Naqvi

As a final act of viciousness, they dug large pits where the tent had stood; making sure it could never be re-pitched. Overnight, the Loi relief camp had become half its size. Pitted with holes. Many of its former residents scattered to the winds. Human debris....


They hacked my husband right before me.” Was she attacked? Shabana is quiet. I try again. This time, her voice a whisper, she says, “They stripped several of us. Took our honour.” They first beat them with batons, then stripped them and brutally sodomised them. The men were stripped and simply chopped into pieces. Shabana and several others were thrown out, naked, an hour later….


Violent Turn of Jamaat-e-Islami Politics in Bangladesh
Haroon Habib

The party has been “nearly dependent” on the cadre strength of the Jamaat, whose main agenda is to become a national political alternative and create a situation that will help foil the ongoing trial of war criminals and free its leaders who have been convicted and those who are under trial. The Bangladesh war crimes tribunals have so far convicted 10 persons for committing crimes against humanity—genocide, mass rape, torture, arson and forcible abductions —during the liberation struggle. Eight of them are key leaders of the Jamaat, which was a cohort of the Pakistan Army….

The questions that Bangladesh faces do not have any easy answers. They are rooted in the very idea of Bangladesh: a predominantly Muslim country separated from Pakistan in 1971 on the question of its linguistic and ethnic identity. The fight in the country is to maintain and preserve this distinct character....


Whither Political Islam: Islamists Have Proven To Be Quite Resilient In The Face Of Existential Threats
Khalil al-Anani

...the experience of the last three years has shown that democracy is a long and intricate path and without including all political forces, domestic and regional stability will remain far-fetched....

Violence-ridden political scenario in Bangladesh as of now gives rise to multiple premonitions. Discerning and concerned citizens are worried. One such worry, willy-nilly, relates to our collective mindset being projected as one that is predisposed to becoming a wellspring of violence, unless it is somehow suitably moulded and rounded up to accommodate and live with modernity. Are the so-called religiously motivated extremist groups trying to redefine the concept of “nation-state''?....

The parties to the conflict are not answerable for what may have been done centuries ago but are indeed answerable for what they do today. It is time both sides show wisdom and take actions for common good. May the world achieve peace and may humans learn to coexist….


Pakistan: 200 Days of Nawaz Sharif vs. Asif Ali Zardari
Najam Sethi

Topmost on his agenda is to try and rebuild stable and mutually beneficial relations with India, Afghanistan and America so that Pakistan’s economy and civil society can benefit from the peace dividends of aid, trade and commerce in the future instead of being buffeted by proxy wars and cross-border terrorism as in the past. A number of significant steps have been taken: the DGMOs of India and Pakistan have met after 14 years to try and stabilize the Line of Control and minimize the chances of knee-jerk conflict as witnessed recently; there is a new commitment to help stabilize and unite Afghanistan without any vested-interest interference or manipulation from Pakistan as in the past;….


Years Of The Gun: A Political History Of The AK-47 In Pakistan
Nadeem F. Paracha
It is believed that some of the militant Baloch nationalists who were fighting an insurgency against the Pakistan Army in the remote mountains of the arid province of Balochistan in the 1970s had acquired a couple of AK-47s from Iraq, whose ruling Ba’ath Socialist Party was allegedly supporting the insurgency. In 1973 the Pakistan government under the leadership of the populist, left-leaning Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, claimed to have confiscated a cache of arms and ammunition that included up to 300 AK-47s from the Iraqi attaché’s house in Islamabad….


Turkish Fatigue
Ayaz Amir

Until not long ago village and even town houses here used to be built without proper toilet facilities. In villages nature’s open spaces took care of waste disposal. The same laissez-faire attitude accompanied the building of Islamabad which, incredible as it may sound, fifty years after its founding still has no proper facility for waste disposal, with refuse and waste dumped in open spaces. At least we are a nuclear power. That should be of some consolation....

Pakistan, 1971
Khaled Ahmed

Pakistan, 1971
Khaled Ahmed

The Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan — having recently won back Taliban and al-Qaeda protection — flexed its street muscle by protesting against the hanging of a man it feels affiliated to. It rightly expected the parliament to bend in deference to this new “empowerment”. But the media in Pakistan has mixed the message more than usual this time….


Pak Eulogising Islamist Jinnah
Tufail Ahmad

They have outlawed Ahmadi Muslims as non-Muslims. They are forcibly converting Hindu girls to Islam and trapping Christians in blasphemy cases. A genocide is unfolding, as Shia Muslims are being hunted and murdered systematically. These murders are ideological; the killers are not found. The secular Jinnah is dead; the Islamist Jinnah is alive….

The Hand Fate Dealt Us
Yasser Latif Hamdani

The Hand Fate Dealt Us
Yasser Latif Hamdani

Let us even accept — for the sake of argument though it is extremely hard for any reasonable and sane person to do so — that the Ordinance XX of 1984 is not a bad law and that Ahmedis should not be allowed to call themselves Muslims and their places of worship mosques. However, stopping them from reading the Quran? Forget that it is part of their religious belief and forget that their modes of worship like any citizen of Pakistan are protected acts under the constitution of Pakistan. Are we saying that the Holy Quran, which calls its author, i.e. God, the ‘Rab-al-Alameen’ or Lord of all the worlds, is limited to Muslims?....

Liberal Islam the Loser in Turkey’s Power Struggle
Saif Shahin, New Age Islam

For nearly a decade, Muslims have hoisted Turkey as an illustration of Islam’s compatibility with modern liberalism. Never mind anachronistic Saudi Arabia, we said. Forget volatile if syncretic Indonesia too. It was Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey that exemplified Islam’s liberal credentials: peaceful and democratic even as it veered away from a century of coercive secularism….

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