Books and Documents
Islam and Politics

Pakistan will likely continue its confrontational policy towards India and Afghanistan, thus further dissipating its capital of goodwill in the international community. Such goodwill, if any exists, is already at a very low ebb. Pakistan is likely to invite international sanctions in the future if it continues with its present policy towards Afghanistan, which might further accelerate its descent it into anarchy. The issue of nuclear proliferation can once again surface, and Pakistan may be asked very hard and uncomfortable questions.....


When I first heard Kakon Bibi’s name I was both astonished and overjoyed. With Kakon Bibi’s name, I came to know that there ARE non-Bangali freedom fighters. I was puzzled. “So, we fought too! But, why weren’t they mentioned in one single book in school?” Freedom fighter Kakat Heinchita, widely known as Kakon Bibi, and locally known as Khasi Mukti Bekti (the freedom girl of Khasi), is a member of the Khasi community and lives in Sunamganj, Sylhet. She lost her husband and many other family members during the Liberation War. In an interview with photographer Elizabeth Herman, she said: “I have lived with wounds in both of my legs for my whole life. .......

Sudhakar Group and Maulana Muniruzzaman Islamabadi Interpreted Islam in Bangla to ‘Cleanse the Faith of Islam’ From the Influences of Hinduism and Christianity - Part 16
Nurul Kabir

Literature for the Sudhakar group was a means of infusing a sense of confidence in the Muslim society of Bengal about the inherent strength of Islam, enlightening the Bengali Muslims about the great contributions that Islam has made in the development of human civilisation and inspiring them to create their own literature in their own mother tongue — Bangla. In order to achieve their cherished objectives, members and sympathisers of the Shudhakar group not only projected in their literary works the great contributions of the Muslim thinkers in the progress of human civilisation, but also made intellectual efforts to refute the demeaning propaganda against Islam and its followers by the rival religious communities of Bengal, such as the Christian missionaries and the orthodox Hindu revivalists..’...


Separate Politics from Religion
Tufail Ahmad

On a recent visit to Dhaka, Syed Haider Farooq Maududi, son of Jamaat-e-Islami founder Maulana Maududi, argued that a democratic state should stay away from religion, observing that “religion is for the people and people are not for religion”. Arguing that religion should stay within the personal life of individuals, he said: “The holy Quran does not talk about politics; it rather talks for the person so that one can become better. Political interpretation of religion always brings destruction in the society.…….

Had he not been murdered, who is to say that Mujib could not have lived up to his visions of a Sonar Bangla that strived to be the Switzerland of Asia?  It is true that Mandela is singled out for celebration because he defied the trend of post independence disillusionment seen throughout the South after decolonisation. But Mujib’s vision was a worthy one. However far from it he was when his life was cut short, might he too not have stepped down from power after being out of prison for nine years?....


Secularism and Secularisation: A Bibliographical Essay
Mohita Bhatia

These insightful studies clearly indicate that secularisation processes are complicated, fluid and multidirectional, thus obviating the clear demarcation emphasised by theories of secularism between religion, politics, culture, modernity and tradition. One may therefore conclude that theories of secularism need to be nuanced further by focusing on various societal processes. There is a need to comprehend religion not as a “given” “static” category, but as a lived reality that interweaves with many other socio-cultural factors to shape the socio-political responses of people....


“A dark time eventually comes to an end.” “Headscarf-wearing women are full members of the republic, as well as those who do not wear it,” he added. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkish army officer who founded the Turkish Republic, had established a republic based on nationalism and secularism, erasing any religious or political symbols representing the era of the Ottoman Empire to westernize the Turkish society, but is that called extremist secularism?...


The Political Interpretation of Islam - Part 1: Preface
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

"This essay is a summary of my book Ta‘abir ki Ghalati (‘Error of Interpretation’). Here, I have tried to briefly clarify why I think that the writings of Maulana Abul Ala Maududi (d. 1979), the founder of the Jama‘at-e Islami and proponent of a distinctly political interpretation of Islam, are problematic."…..

In Islam’s Name Our Disservice to Islam
Ayaz Amir

..... if Islam is rescued from the hands of its professional exploiters, if religion is taken out of the business of the state and becomes a matter between an individual and his Creator, maybe the strife tearing our society apart is reduced, and we move closer to the true spirit of Islam......

Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Nuclear Deal
Neville Teller

That the Middle East’s two Islamic “superpowers” are competitors for the religious leadership of the Muslim world is well recognized. Saudi Arabia, a key Arab state, contains both Mecca and Medina within its borders and is the guardian of the Sunni tradition of Islam. Its lack of affinity with Iran is acute. The Islamic Republic of Iran is not an Arab but a Persian state, its native language is not Arabic but Farsi, and it proclaims itself the custodian of the Shi’ite branch of Islam……


"When, on occasions, a person shows their intolerance of another individual, whether by aggression or violence and in such a way as to cause real fear to the individual, then the law can be invoked to protect that individual."


Sudhakar Group and Maulana Muniruzzaman Islamabadi Interpreted Islam in Bangla to ‘Cleanse the Faith of Islam’ From the Influences of Hinduism and Christianity - Part 15
Nurul Kabir

In this phase of the history of the development of Bangla prose appeared Ishwar Chandra Sharma, popularly known as Vidyasagar, the ocean of knowledge, with his multi-dimensional social and intellectual commitments. The most principled reformist among the English-educated Hindus of his time, Ishwar Chandra was a middle-roader, with the radical Young Bengal group on the one side and the orthodox Hindu elite on the other.....


A charged Bangladesh mainstream politics now finds flowing blood everyday as the politics is delivering deaths daily. Common persons – public transport drivers, day laborers, low salaried employees, and similar “insignificant” citizens – are being burned to death. The acts reaffirm mainstream’s monopolization of violence……


Bangladesh’s New Radical Islamists
Haroon Habib

The resurgence of new radicals like the madrasa-based Hefazat-e-Islam, patronised by both the Jamaat and the BNP are also seen as being inimical to the interests of a stable, democratic Bangladesh…..


Three Positive Signs in a Time of Gloom
Rami G. Khouri

We may be witnessing the start of political rapprochements that are necessary in order for governments and other powerful movements such as Hezbollah or the Sadrists in Iraq to work together to close those gaps in governance and security that Salafists-Takfiris exploit. Fighting these radical militants and terrorists that now number in the tens of thousands in Iraq-Syria- Lebanon cannot be done militarily…….


How many Islamic nations are there currently in the world today? The answer is zero. The next question is which was the last Islamic country that existed? The answer is the Ottoman Islamic State that was dissolved in 1922 at the end of the First World War. By this definition I, a Muslim and a Malaysian citizen would like to acknowledge that there is currently no Muslim nation…..


Nearly A Century after the Armenian Genocide, These People Are Still Being Slaughtered In Syria
Robert Fisk

Upon the bones of the dead Armenians, the Syrian conflict is being fought. And the descendants of the Armenian Christian survivors who found sanctuary in the old Syrian lands have been forced to flee again – to Lebanon, to Europe, to America….


Impossible Dialogue: The Choice in Yemen
Ramzy Baroud

Considering the mistrust in the very process that is meant to lead the country toward permanent reforms and democracy, and in the very representatives guiding the transition, it is no wonder that Yemen is once more at the brink of tumult…..


Al-Qaeda’s Notion of ‘Freedom’
Mustafa Akyol

Known by its acronym ISIS, this fanatic group has shocked the world with its brutal executions, including beheadings, of not just the supporters of Bashar al-Assad, the dictator of Syria, but even elements of the more moderate opposition. It is clearly an offshoot of al-Qaeda, and thus proudly executes the acts of violence that the rest of the world considers as terrorism….


Look to Egypt in Freedom’s Battle
Rami G. Khouri

Will we see popular forces that brought down the Mubarak regime mobilise yet again to oppose the current government’s draconian laws that aim to control and stifle political protests? It is not yet clear if those demonstrators who have taken to the streets in half a dozen Egyptian cities in the past few days represent a wide cross section of the Egyptian population, or only a small stratum of activist progressives. Will Egypt now see its fourth popular revolt against autocracy in the past three years?......


The Problem is Authoritarianism, Not Islam

Turkey, Egypt, and Tunisia are very different countries, but one thing that they share are Islamist governments (at least until recently in Egypt's case). To varying degrees, these governments have undermined their democratic credentials by failing to protect civil and human rights and employing heavy-handed tactics against their opponents. Despite repeated assurances, Islamist leaders have shown little interest in democracy beyond winning at the ballot box.....


The principles distinguish cultural Islam from political Islam. Included in cultural Islam are the country’s two largest Muslim groups, Nahdlatul Ulema (NU) and Muhammadiyah, which focus more on socio-cultural issues such as education and health than on efforts to establish an Islamic state or enforce Islamic law…….


Secularism Leading to Islamism
Tufail Ahmad

Malala is criticised because her father wore black armbands on the 50th anniversary of Pakistan’s Independence Day, saying that Swat had suffered since its merger with Pakistan in 1969. There is nothing blasphemous in the book. The Islamists are attacking her for trivial points: for writing Jinnah instead of Quaid-e-Azam, or great leader; for not writing “peace be upon you” with Prophet Muhammad’s name, not a norm in English……

Mistaking Maududi for Mao
Nadeem F. Paracha

Mistaking Maududi for Mao
Nadeem F. Paracha

But the fact remains, no amount of red mufflers and lefty rhetoric can change the reality that many of these men fought a concentrated war on the behest of the US with leftists throughout the Cold War and those who didn’t are simply mixing up their Maududi with Mao…….

True Islam Can Stop Extremism
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

True Islam Can Stop Extremism
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

Individuals are violent. Extremist groups that misinterpret religion in their zealotry or self-interest commit acts of violence, prompting a violent reaction. And so begins a vicious cycle of violence and hatred. These people mask their political or power agendas in false religious doctrine. We must make that distinction — between religion and the power-hungry — and combat the extremists……

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