Islam and Politics
The latest Charlie Hebdo cartoon, produced after last week's horrific attacks on the Paris magazine's offices, literally adds insult to injury. Admittedly a portrait in mixed messages, the cover reads "All is forgiven" above a drawing of the Prophet Mohammed, who is holding a "Je suis Charlie" sign. Who, exactly, is supposed to be doing the forgiving and who must be forgiven is not clear…..
….insulting sacred things under the guise of freedom of the press or freedom of speech, or regarding that as a victory, will merely open the door to troubles. Those who wish to express their ideas through insults, who deprive others of the right to reply, merely encourage isolation and anger in the society in which they wish to live. “Free” Europe, therefore, needs to redefine the concept of freedom of ideas; if it wishes to maintain a strong democracy and rein in terror…..
Imagine an attempt to ban the veneration of the Prophet Muhammad. Go further and imagine a plan to level his tomb in Medina, the second holiest site in Islam, dig up his remains and rebury them in a secret, unmarked grave. Go further again and imagine the actual, systematic destruction, in the early years of Islam, of the tombs of the major figures, including the prophet’s closest relatives. What lunatic would even imagine going to these extreme lengths to provoke, insult and enrage Muslims? Well, the House of Saud, rulers of Saudi Arabia and guardians of the extremist ideology that fuels much of today’s Islamist terrorism, wouldn’t just imagine them. It does them…..
As Maulana Azad said: "Our history is replete with the doings of Ulema who have brought humiliation and disgrace to Islam in every age". The house of Sauds that exports, apart from oil, medievalism and tribalism in the name of Islam cannot be expected to bring about any change or reform. Their Western friends must also introspect why they turn a blind eye to Saudi well-oiled obscurantism. Saudi Arabia has done more harm to the Islamic understanding and flourish than any other force. It's time to reject the Saudi version of Islam. Revivalism, devoid of reawakening, is no good. …..
Empowerment is not something the U.S. or the international community can ever bestow onto Arab masses. Empowerment lies within the domain of Arab governments. Nevertheless, as long as U.S. national interest is jeopardized the American administration must employ its political powers to nudge these governments to take concrete steps toward reforming educational systems, political inclusion and freedoms. Unfortunately, turning the tide will not be smooth. In fact, this strategy will be long and chaotic. Keep in mind that the current situation on the ground in the Arab world is already disastrous……
The only source in Islamic law that all Muslims accept indisputably is the Quran. And, conspicuously, the Quran decrees no earthly punishment for blasphemy — or for apostasy (abandonment or renunciation of the faith), a related concept. Nor, for that matter, does the Quran command stoning, female circumcision or a ban on fine arts. All these doctrinal innovations, as it were, were brought into the literature of Islam as medieval scholars interpreted it, according to the norms of their time and milieu......
Nothing clarifies the two contending visions for Pakistan – ideological versus secular – than responses to Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 Constituent Assembly speech. To me, it outlined a vision for a secular Pakistan. The Quaid had said in that speech that “in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”….
The poor, who are an easy target, have usually been the primary victims and are therefore the first to migrate. The rich have followed once they have also been affected, as in Jaipur in 1990 or Ahmedabad in 2002. Juhapura, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, exemplifies this process of ghettoisation. It grew after the riots of 1969, 1985 and 1992, but it became a ghetto of four to five Lakh people after the 2002 killings, which, for the first time, resulted in the death of elite Muslims, including Ehsan Jafri, the former MP. Incidentally, many of the contributors to Muslims in Indian Cities discovered that the circumstances of Jafri’s death were known to Muslims throughout the country…..
Like moths to a flame they have come: pilgrims and priests; Faqirs and frauds; messiahs and mendicants; heroes and harlots; cutthroats and kings. Dynasties rose and fell. But despite the unending conflict over who should own Jerusalem, one community has clung on tenaciously: the Jews…..
As Europol, the European Union’s law-enforcement agency, noted in its report released last year, the vast majority of terror attacks in Europe were perpetrated by separatist groups. For example, in 2013, there were 152 terror attacks in Europe. Only two of them were “religiously motivated,” while 84 were predicated upon ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs….
With democracy as a benchmark, political Islamists who compete for power within a democratic arena are not a problem. It is militant Islamists, who want Shariah through force, who are a source of disruption in the world. From the Taliban to al Qaeda to ISIL, all attribute their violence to a supposedly “just cause” because the Prophet (PBUH) also waged jihad on various occasions. The problem with this line of thinking is that a prophet could undertake jihad for a cause for the simple reason that the Creator had ordered him to do so…..
Is Catholicism/the Vatican on trial every time a priest sexually assaults a minor? Or is the Pope ultimately responsible for the deviant acts of lone-wolf priests? Is Judaism on trial for every illegal settlement expansion and violence against Palestinians? Is Buddhism, in Sri Lanka or Thailand, on trial every time a monk assaults a person of a different faith or destroys property? Put differently, are the teachings and principles of Buddha revisited based upon violent acts of lone-wolf monks? It would appear that since the World Trade Center bombing (in the 1990s) and 9/11, every time a lone-wolf act done by a “Muslim” – from shoe (would-be) bomber to underwear (would-be) bomber to Time Square (would-be) bomber – there is debate, led generally by the Western media, about the violence within Islam or questioning the “peacefulness of Islam”…
Had these Muslims instead argued that the West’s own sins – it colonial history, its unlawful “war on terror,” its support for Israeli militarism – form one root cause of Islamist militancy, then they would be saying something right and important. But analyzing the unintended consequences of Western sins is one thing, imagining that the West secretly manufactures all Muslim sins is another…..
For centuries, ideologues and politicians in the West have positioned themselves regarding Islam in a defensive way. Christian Europe always met with Islam through war. First of all it was the Umayyad reign in Iberia, also with a Jewish presence that was brutally crushed by the Catholic inquisition in the 15th century. Then, starting in the 14th century through the Balkans, the Turkish Empire under the Ottoman dynasty finished off the remnants of the Roman Empire, took Constantinople, and made Istanbul its capital, controlling major trade routes of the Old World….
Today, the world watches in horror as the terrifying threat of the Islamic State continues to grow, and although the West is repeating its calls for moderate Arab leaders to take charge, we are still not dealing with the main underlying issues. These are, of course, different for everyone, but they share a single common denominator: the need for people in the Middle East to have access to the same kind of equal opportunities, in a merit-based, reward-driven environment that much of the world enjoys. Change is inevitable: if we do not embrace evolution now, all the indications are that we will be faced with a real revolution in the future….
How many other Abdul Aziz’s does Pakistan have? Clerics who propagate Taliban and Daesh (Islamic State) views to their followers and who, like Aziz, are unmoved by the Peshawar massacre? No one knows even the number of mosques in Pakistan, where they are located, and, most importantly, what their Khutbas (sermons) contain….
Thousands of Burmese Muslims from Arakan – often called Rohingyas – were offered a safe haven in Saudi Arabia by King Faisal but with the change in rulers in Saudi Arabia the rules underwent a change too. A permanent abode of peace that was offered to these uprooted Arakanese is now nothing less than a chamber of horrors. There are some three thousand families of Burmese Muslims in Makkah and Jeddah prisons awaiting their deportation. Women and children are held in separate prisons nearby. The only contact the men have with their wives and children is through mobile phones and clandestine courier service provided by hawkers of food & water - aided & abetted by the prison officers for a small fee!....
The implantation of the Huthi movement in the Yemeni state machinery will facilitate Iran's interference in the internal affairs of Yemen. This will strengthen Iran's position in the Middle East. It will also have big impact on Saudi Arabia. Iran's growing weight in Yemen's internal affairs is a nightmare for Saudi Arabia because, in addition to the Iranian influence in the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia, inhabited by Shia Arabs, another Shia entity supported by Iran will now disturb the kingdom from the southwest…..
....the reality is that now in France there are people who exhibit not one French identity, but at least two or three competing ones. Not only has this fed into the rise of the right wing led by Le Pen, but it has placed stress on secular culture. The French government banned headscarves in public schools in 2004, and in 2014 it became mandatory to reveal one’s face at a place of work. Charlie Hebdo’s work falls within this context of stresses on national identity and secular culture. Of course, it targeted one religion, Islam, more than others in recent years. However, we need to understand Charlie Hebdo not as an anti-Islamic publication, but as an anti-religion, anti-institutional, anti-extremist publication......
The constant depiction of Muslims as the “problematic other” plays a major role in dehumanising the entire community. The act of systematic dehumanisation of a community has historically been used to justify mass violence as retaliation, and shifts the burden of responsibility for the violence on the marginalised communities. The radicalisation discourse not only defines itself in opposition to the “other,” but often engages in violence against this “other.” In India, the discourse has overwhelmingly contributed to the normalisation of prejudice, dehumanisation of an entire community, legitimated violence and enabled a steady erosion of rights….
Today Islam has been left to be cannibalised by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries supporting and funding the spread of Wahhabism that had earlier identified Kemal Ataturk, King Faruq and Presidents Nasser and Sadat of Egypt, Hafiz al-Asad in Syria as enemies from within. “If these fanatics and fundamentalists had twisted the word of God for their own political ends”, a prominent British-Pakistani writer Hanif Kureishi once asked, “why shouldn't the Qur’an be reclaimed and reinterpreted by the better intentioned?”…
Riyadh's regional strategy has traditionally been to support primarily Sunni Arab groups with a conservative, Salafist religious ideology. Salafist groups traditionally kept out of politics, and their conservative Sunni ideology was useful in Saudi Arabia's competition against Iran and its own Shiite proxies. Promoting Salafism also served as a tool to limit the reach of more ideologically moderate Sunni political Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, groups Riyadh sees as a threat because of their success in organizing grassroots support and fighting for democratic reforms.....
Ajit Kumar Singh
Secretary General's statement remains far from reality. Afghanistan today is unsecure and volatile, and is home to a multiplicity of Islamist extremist and terrorist formations that constitute a tremendous and potentially global threat. Moreover, the grave risks located in the wider Af-Pak region, and the neglect of the principal source of Islamist terrorism in the South Asian region - Pakistan - was studiously ignored through the period of ISAF's engagement in Afghanistan, despite the continuous losses inflicted on ISAF personnel and infrastructure by terrorist formations located on Pakistani soil. Afghanistan is now utterly exposed to the dangers of a proxy war by the Pakistani state backing the Taliban.....
Like all other radical ideologies, Islamism is the product of sociological conditions. Historically, Kurds and Arabs used to organize in hierarchic clan structures. Today, they have reproduced these traditional structures within the political organizations of modern times. In an atmosphere of permanent conflict, if you don't have a clan you take refuge in a clan-like organization. A similar organization is being created based on ideology…..
Bad times have visited the Arabs before, but 2014 was a year from hell. The region stretching from Beirut to Basra continued to slowly disintegrate, with people clinging more than ever to their primordial identities as if the colonial constructs of the Nation-States that emerged after the First World War were only a passing moment. Most Arabs in that part of the ephemeral Arab World are now seeing themselves and are being seen as Sunnis and Shiites, while others are stressing their Christian, Druze, Kurdish, and Turkoman identities….