Books and Documents
Islam and Politics

India's 176 million Muslims represent about 15 percent of India's population. Most adhere to the moderate Barelvi form of Islam, but in recent times it's estimated that as many as 20 per cent have been lured to Wahhabi ideology. India is susceptible to the extremist snare. The Modi government must adopt a two-prong policy. One is to pre-empt and counter terrorists by profiling existing and potential militants, creating a dedicated national anti-terror workforce, integrating inputs from academic in policymaking and ensuring fair and fast judicial scrutiny. The other is to work on social sites by checking Wahhabi indoctrination, removing Muslim ghettoisation, modernising madrasa education, and supporting small-scale entrepreneurship initiated by semi-skilled illiterate Muslims along with other Indian citizens…..


The Rise of Religion in Politics
Murat Yetkin

Perhaps it sounds irrelevant to mention the Pope’s visit to the European Parliament and the Jewish State bill in Israel at a time when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been shocking the world with its violence in the name of religion. As part of that, people have been beheaded, enslaved, raped and displaced by ISIL militants, motivated by an endless hatred against not only non-Muslims but also against everyone other than believers of their radical version of Sunni Islam…..

The Islamic State Reshapes the Middle East
George Friedman

Ideologically, there is little difference between the Islamic State and other radical Islamic jihadist movements. But in terms of geographical presence, the Islamic State has set itself apart from the rest. While al Qaeda might have longed to take control of a significant nation-state, it primarily remained a sparse, if widespread, terrorist organization. It held no significant territory permanently; it was a movement, not a place. But the Islamic State, as its name suggests, is different. …..


Sharia and English law: a Secularist Success

They are still concerned by the burgeoning of "Sharia councils" to which Muslims, in England and many other Western countries, turn for arbitration and advice in settling commercial disputes, family and marital matters, and inheritance. These bodies have no powers of coercion; in theory at least, they can only function by the free consent of all the interested parties but, secularists worry that vulnerable individuals who live "deep inside" an introspective Muslim community will come under strong pressure to abide by rulings of Sharia councils rather than regular courts……

It is easy to forget that political readings of Islam have not always sought to galvanise religious traditions from a perspective serving the interests of capital. Indeed, during the late nineteenth century and for the best part of the twentieth century a proliferation of Muslim intellectuals, political activists and movements were assiduously engaged with the burgeoning ideas of socialism. From the Tartar-led Waisi movement in Russia in the first decades of the twentieth century to the Pakistani People’s Party (PPP) formed by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1967—political articulations of Islam acknowledged the significance of class struggle in the lives of ordinary Muslims……

Sufis and the Muslim Brotherhood might share common ground in regard to the principle of absolute obedience to the commander; the Muslim Brotherhood strictly obeys the group’s general guide, and Sufis follow the command of the sheikh of the Sufi order. In this context, Ahmed Ban, a researcher in Islamic movements, told Al-Monitor, “There is a disparity in views between Sufis as to the ideas on obedience. While some believe that the sheikh of the order should be fully obeyed, others believe that their relationship with him is more spiritual, aiming at enhancing and improving their behaviours.”….


The fact of the matter is that Muslims have always spoken out against groups like ISIS. Yet it is worth noting that after these extremist groups act, Muslims across the globe (and in particular the Western world) are left stranded in the centre of an imperial dichotomy which labels them according to “fundamentalist” and “moderate” Muslims. Should Muslims really be compelled to apologise for and defend their faith day in and day out? The rise of ISIS in the Middle East and the spread of extremism around the world has unusually led even more liberal figures to condemn Islam as violent and intolerant…..

Asia's Long Islamic History Offers Strategy for Fighting Intolerance Today
Nirupama Rao

The largest Muslim communities in the world live in Indonesia and India and these communities are known for their syncretic traditions, the manner in which they have assimilated local tradition and cultural influences. The words of India’s nationalist leader, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, spoken in 1940, about Islam in India, are particularly revealing and meaningful: "I am a Muslim and proud of this fact. Islam’s splendid traditions of thirteen hundred years are my inheritance… In addition, I am proud of being an Indian; I am part of the indivisible unity that is Indian nationality… Islam has now as great a claim on the soil of India as Hinduism….

What Should Bangladesh Do With Jamaat?
Taj Hashmi

…there is no reason to believe that the Jamaat or its sister-organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, is just an Islamic party or like the Christian Democrats in Europe. Maududi and Jamaat have profoundly influenced Islamist politics and its derivative, Islamist terrorism, throughout the world. As Maududi's writings influenced Sayyid Qutb and Mohamed Morsi of the Brotherhood, and Ayatollah Khomeini, so did they influence Abdullah Azzam, the mentor of Osama bin Laden. Before assuming the office of the President of Egypt, Morsi stated he would “make all Christians convert to Islam, or else pay the jizyah”….


Is ‘Popular Front For The Liberation Of Palestine’ Trying To Make A Comeback?
Ramzy Baroud

There is more than one context through which this issue can be discussed, but most urgent among them is PFLP’s own identity, incessant decline in political relevance and the unavoidable intellectual conflict, which has dogged the group since its formation by Marxist Arab nationalist Christian leader Dr. George Habash in 1967. What was an expected soul-searching of one of Palestine’s most progressive political movements starting in the 1960s throughout the 80s became a political crisis necessitated by the decline of its strongest supporters, the Soviet Union and the East European bloc, and the signing of the Oslo accords a few years later....


Tunisia Stands at Political Crossroads in Its Revolutionary Transition
H.A. Hellyer

Tunisia is where it all began. Of course, there were movements elsewhere in the Arab world that had been agitating for change for years but it was Tunisia’s revolutionary uprising in late 2010 and early 2011 that served as the spark which later led to a fire. While many Arab revolutionaries have been, indeed, burned through that process, with hitherto rather disastrous effects, Tunisia has not faltered – yet. There have been many external and internal factors that have ensured that Tunisia’s revolution has not been undone or overcome…..


Unrest and isolated attacks are nothing new in Xinjiang, a sparsely-populated desert province in the far west of China, which has traditionally been inhabited by Uighurs, Kyrgyz, Tajiks and other ethnic Muslim groups. But since the severe unrest of 2009, an escalation of the violence has been observed in the oasis towns on the edge of the Taklamakan desert. As well as the larger-scale attacks, police officers, civil servants and Han farmers are being murdered almost every week. At the same time, repression is increasing, and young Uighurs are regularly given death sentences and executed. The authorities attribute the violence to ‘terrorists’…..

How Tunisia Will Succeed
Rachid Ghannouchi

How Tunisia Will Succeed
Rachid Ghannouchi

Nearly four years have passed since a man named Mohamed Bouazizi so despaired of the system that he set himself on fire in protest. With every decision we make, politicians in Tunisia must never forget what he died for. We need to protect freedom and dignity, and provide hope and opportunity. This was the dream of the Tunisian Awakening, and it is how Tunisia will succeed today.....

The World Must Prevent ISIS from Obtaining Pakistani Nukes
Ahmad Hasib Farhan

Among all the nuclear states Pakistan is the only country that leaked and transferred nuclear technology to the countries that are still under UN and US sanctions. It is also the only nuclear state that shelters and protects terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Haqqani Network and many others. The Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, leaked nuclear secrets to North Korea, Libya and Iran…..


It was in a sunny day in April 1986 when Iranian supreme spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini was talking to the families of the Iranians who were killed or injured during the bloody Iran-Iraqi war when he said ” Lastly but not the least, I strongly encourage you all to continue to be loyal to the Islamic republic, which was made of the sacrifices of your children, and you have to work very hard to set the grounds for the appearance of the saviour of humanity , the last Imam, Hazrat Baqeyyatu Allah- my soul for his sake-, by being completely ready to sacrifice for exporting the revolution to every place on earth!...

Jerusalem: Don't Call It a Religious Conflict
Rachel Shabi

This movement goes against a long-established status quo agreement, whereby non-Muslims can visit, but not worship at this holy site housing both the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. But more than that, it runs contrary to what Jewish religious leaders have been saying for centuries, which is to rule against Jewish prayer at Temple Mount. Today, there is only one, growingly influential rabbinical strain that says otherwise and that's the one guiding the religious-settler movement, which should make it abundantly clear that the issue is political, not religious…..


As we get close to the November 24 deadline for a comprehensive nuclear deal to be reached between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany), another conflict has been raging in Iran between the moderates and the hardliners, a contest that could be regarded as a culture war between two different ideologies and two different versions of Islam. Thirty-five years after the start of the Islamic revolution in Iran, the conflict between the two camps has not yet been resolved….


In Yemen’s Turmoil, is The Muslim Brotherhood the Main Loser?
Manuel Almeida

The Brotherhood’s fortunes took a turn for the worse with the military offensive by the disgruntled Zaydi Houthi rebels who took over the capital Sanaa in September this year. In this ambitious move the Houthis were supported by pro-Saleh tribes and groups in the military, looking to undermine President Hadi’s position and resentful of the growing power of al-Islah…..


Turkey's Bark and Bite
Burak Bekdil

Turkey is not the only country reflecting the Islamist hypocrisy when it comes to trafficking money with the Palestinians -- and Israelis. As recently highlighted in an article in The Times of Israel, official data tells of a booming, but very discreet, trade relationship, blossoming between Israel and Malaysia -- another "loud voice against Israel and a benefactor for the 'Palestinian cause.'"…


Is Another War Coming To The Occupied West Bank?
Juan Cole

But there is one scenario in which “transfer” (i.e. ethnic cleansing) could occur. That would be a repeat of the 1947-48 civil war in British Mandate Palestine, which eventuated in the ethnic cleansing by Jewish militias of 720,000 Palestinians out of a pre-war total of 1.2 million. Jewish terrorist organizations such as the Stern Gang simply mowed down Palestinian villagers with machine guns to scare their neighbours into fleeing their homes, which the nascent Israelis then usurped…..


Arab World: Let Citizens Be the Arbiters of States
Rami G. Khouri

Groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, ISIS, the Houthis in Yemen, Muqtada al-Sadr’s followers in Iraq, the Muslim Brotherhood and tribes across the region all reflect the brittle nature of statehood and national identity in many Arab countries, forcing citizens to seek their critical needs in arenas beyond the control of the state. Many, perhaps most, Arab citizens have a utilitarian, mercantile and pragmatic relationship with their states and governments, rather than a deeply emotional and organic one as people tend to have with their family, clan, tribe, religion or ethnic group……


The Hot Winds of Indo-Pak Partition Left Salim Mirza Stranded
Jawed Naqvi

The atheist Hindu migrant from Rawalpindi plays Salim Mirza in the movie, the stoically unflappable head of a Muslim joint family in Agra caught in the throes of India-Pakistan Partition. Though the unspeakable violence and communal strife of Partition has been recorded in detail in novels, films, short stories, documentaries, Garam Hawa, roughly translated as ‘the hot winds’, gives a palpably searing view of how a reasonably happy Muslim family is slowly and inevitably torn asunder by the sheer winds of Partition. The Garam Hawa had uprooted a prosperous orchard, Mirza Sahib mumbles to the Tonga driver on their way from the train station. The two had driven there several times in recent days to see someone off to Pakistan…..

The continued polarization between Israelis and Palestinians reflects growing hatred within both societies. On the one hand, Palestinian terrorists spew anti-Semitic rhetoric in an effort to stir their people to violence; while on the other hand, the Israeli government feeds into existing Islamophobia and deploys it when annexing new Palestinian territory. ... European elites need to start blaming the Palestinians, and Americans need to start blaming Israel—not in order to shame either side, but to acknowledge that peace is the only answer to a conflict. And without it, even worse consequences are in store for Israel and Palestine in the years ahead.....


Religion and Politics Make an Explosive Mixture
Dogu Ergil

An identity acquires acute importance when it is faced with an existential danger. Its defense becomes a life-and-death matter. This is the time when the identity-group demands the utmost sacrifice from its members. What is our collective (national) identity? It is officially defined as Turkish and Muslim. When the constitutive ideology of the republic was Turkish nationalism, Turkishness was expressed loudly; being a Muslim was only whispered…..


Tunisia held its second legislative elections in three years. Unlike elections in other Arab countries—Iraq, for instance—Tunisia’s was not marred by sectarian divides; nor, like Egypt, did it deepen the schism between secularists and Islamists. In what was a first in the Arab world after the Arab Spring, a faith-based party, Ennahda, politely handed power to its secular opponent, Nidaa Tounes. The secularists—a coalition of loyalists to ousted leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, liberals, and leftists—responded in kind. “We in Nidaa Tounes believe that the Ennahda movement has become a reality in the Tunisian political landscape,”…

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