Books and Documents
Islam and Politics

Moderate Islam? Look to Central Asia
S. Frederick Starr

While violence rages on in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, the predominantly Muslim countries of the former Soviet Union — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — are experimenting with secular governments and free markets.....

Hasan Mahmud: Sharia Law Betrays Modern State and Quran
Hasan Mahmud

"Sharia literarily means the path made by animals going to the spot of flowing water or flowing water itself," he continued. "Symbolically, it means path to salvation or Nirvana. This is exactly what the Quran used the word for: ethical guidance or a moral code that leads to peace and paradise. Transforming 'moral guidance' to 'state law' was the very first betrayal the Quran suffered."…

Three years after the Arab Spring first erupted; the results are far from a clear-cut victory for pluralist democracy. Egypt has reverted to military rule after the unpopular administration of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi. Libya remains unstable. Syria is locked in civil war. But Tunisia, where the upheavals began with the suicide of a deeply frustrated vegetable cart vendor, last month adopted one of the more liberal constitutions in the Middle East….


Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s Prophecy Playing out in Pakistan
Tufail Ahmad

Azad’s real name was Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin; he was born in Mecca on November 11, 1888, and died in Delhi on February 22, 1958. Over a year before Pakistan’s creation, in an April 1946 interview he gave to journalist Shorish Kashmiri, Maulana Azad forecast the darkness that engulfs Pakistan today….

Related Article:

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad: The Man Who Knew The Future Of Pakistan Before Its Creation


No Outrage over Carnage
Praveen Swami

This is because the conflict isn’t about primitive religious fanatics battling the state: it is, instead, an irreducible ideological conflict about what Pakistan ought to be. The jihadists see themselves as revolutionaries fighting to overthrow a corrupt oligarchy, and build a utopia based on the word of god. Their methods might be repulsive, but many Pakistanis don’t disagree with their ideals....


The Deep Desert Shadows over Pakistan
Ayaz Amir

No one in his right mind will say spoil relations with Saudi Arabia. If the Sharifs have some cachet with our friends from the holy kingdom they should exploit it in the country’s interest. This is a cash-strapped government, indeed a cash-strapped economy. We could do with what help we can get. But our begging bowl is eternal. We are always in need of cash. No one bailout or temporary funding is going to redeem our condition.....


Yet, the nation still has hopes if only it can return to Jinnah's will. Speaking to the Central Legislative Assembly in 1935 Jinnah said: "Religion should not be allowed to come into politics….Religion is merely a matter between man and God." Jinnah drew a clear line between politics and religion, with religion clearly limited to being "between man and God". This statement should have laid the foundation of a secular Pakistan. ….

No to Sharia

While Saudi Arabia and her Gulf cousins as well as Iran had oil to offer something to their citizens, in the case of Pakistan, Sharia will compound working classes’ misery through oppression of the workers.  Lacking any initiative even in the capitalist constraints, it will only resort to violence in response to break working class movements for improvements in livings.....

Creating a Secular Jinnah
Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

Creating a Secular Jinnah
Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

We’ve always been told that secularism entailed separation of state and religion. However, Jinnah’s secularism entailed separation of state through religion. Common evidence provided to establish Jinnah as a secularist, include a lack of beard; alcohol and pork consuming habits and a picture with dogs. If not being a practicing Muslim is the sole criteria for being secular the majority of Pakistan’s population could be dubbed secular....

Brotherhood’s silence on Sharia implementation leaves many questions unanswered. If Islamic law is not fit to solve any legal crisis, why should battalions of local and international Sharia “scholars” spend so much money, time and effort studying the Sharia? Why should Ashari theology be the inevitable decider on Islamic law in Egypt? How does the Brotherhood’s claim to ballot-box legitimacy coincide with the elitist election of the imam in Ouda’s code? More importantly, how can the brutal punishments of Ouda’s criminal law be reconciled with the notions of democracy and human rights?...


Rohingya: Tough Test for a Nascent Democracy
Harun Yahya

While the world’s attention is focused on the Middle East, the Rohingya people have for years been exposed to the most ruthless oppression; various extreme nationalist terrorist groups are on the prowl literally hunting down Rohingyas.…..

‘Say Not To Democracy’ – A Message in a Facebook Profile
Julfikar Ali Manik

“Say not to Democracy” – that was the message in the Facebook profile picture of Rasel Bin Sattar Khan in January. It was in this very Facebook account where many things were posted in support of local and foreign Islamist militant groups, their leaders and that campaigned for killing those who made derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad…..


Protect State and Government
Najam Sethi

A host of pro-Taliban non-entities have been paraded before the media and given space to make headlines by indulging in senseless debate over the meaning and scope of Shariah, jihad, suicide, martyrdom and barbaric acts like the slitting of throats and butchering of prisoners….


Deadly Tactics of Pak Taliban
Mehr F. Husain

WHAT started as mass murders in the form of targeted sectarian attacks, minority killings and destruction of any form of infrastructure that symbolised progress like schools has turned into a successful strategy for the TTP as they discover the government’s weak point (Punjab) and how to keep the government under pressure by straining the relationship between the military and civilian government....

Convolutions in Motion
Nadeem F. Paracha

Convolutions in Motion
Nadeem F. Paracha

Sixty-six years old and suffering from a crippling identity crisis. Sixty-six years old and still requiring hoards of people to continue knee-jerking their way across a number of hyperbolic patriotic clichés and chants. This is Pakistan…..


Bahrain's Hijacked Reform Efforts
Sarah Bin Ashoor

Bahrain has faced an analogous cycle of events: The state pursues political and economic reforms. These efforts are then hijacked by unpopular radical Shiite Islamists supported by Iran. Eventually, the state overcomes these challenges and restores stability — sometimes at the cost of initially pursued reform efforts....


Sudhakar Group and Maulana Muniruzzaman Islamabadi Interpreted Islam in Bangla to ‘Cleanse the Faith of Islam’ From the Influences of Hinduism and Christianity – Part - 23
Nurul Kabir

Understandably, Sarat Chandra refused to take the responsibility of his and his Hindu colleagues’, literary silence about the Bengali Muslims, who constituted the majority of the Bengal population. He rather blamed the Muslims for the Hindu failure, almost the same way Tagore passed the responsibility on to the Muslim litterateurs. However, Tagore not only carried forward the Hinduised linguistic and literary tradition inaugurated by means of avoiding Muslim characters and Arabicised/Persianised words used in the Muslim society in his literary exercises, he also contributed to dividing the Bangla language on geographical line, Eastern and Western Bengal....


Religion is not meant to be – and never was – forced upon an individual against his or her own will. Unfortunately, Pakistan is facing terrorism and some Islamic fundamentalists want to impose their rigid rituals and rights on non-Muslims. The Pakistani government is in a state of confusion about whether to confront them, which could lead to even more rabid mobs in the short-term, or allow the terrorizing of innocents to continue…..


What is it about America and Bangladesh? At times one thinks they look through binoculars but forget to take the lens caps off and see only a reflection of their own geopolitical projections. Take the lens cap off, and an unexpected reality emerges that doesn’t fit the view constructed and promulgated by the Washington think tanks, which leads to much hand-wringing and nay saying….


The View from Malaysia
Mustafa Akyol

Some sixty percent of the population is made up by ethnic Malays, who are by definition Muslim. Many of them follow the Shafi School of jurisprudence, which is one of the four main four schools of Sunni Islam (the merchants who brought Islam to Malaysia centuries ago, without any war or conquest, were apparently mostly Shafi). The rest of Malaysia is made up of Chinese, Hindu and other minorities….

Maldives: A Return to Religious Conservatism
Vishal Arora

Gayoom was known for opposing radical versions of Islam and Saudi influence in religion during his rule, his policy changed after pro-democracy Nasheed defeated him in the 2008 election. To snatch power from Nasheed, Gayoom expanded the opposition by roping in conservative Islamic parties and organizations.....


Differing Accounts of Recent Violence in Xinjiang
Chris Buckley

The Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking ethnic minority who are mostly Sunni Muslim. According to the Xinjiang police, the violence was the latest example of a terrorist assault inspired by Islamist extremism and separatism. The police said the attack had been mounted by “a group of 13 terrorist suspects” established in September 2013 by Mehmut Tohti, “who started to spread religious extremism three years ago,”....


Libya: The Unfinished Coup
Ramzy Baroud

Some will find most convenient ways to explain the chaos: “East Libya is inherently unruly,” some would say; “it takes a strong leader to maintain the national cohesion of a country made of tribes, not citizens,” others would opine. But the truth is oftentimes inconvenient and requires more than mere platitudes. Libya is in a state of chaos…


Turkey's Model Nation
Mustafa Akyol

The spirit of revolution soon spread to other Arab countries, albeit with less-impressive results. Libya suffered from bloody internal turmoil; Egypt reverted to brutal military rule; Syria continues to be ravaged by civil war. In Tunisia, however, the nascent democratic process has not been derailed. The country’s new Constitution — the most liberal and democratic charter the Muslim Middle East has ever seen — remains the Arab Spring’s crowning achievement to date.....

The Failure of Political Islam
Ömer Taspinar

Today, we can argue that these Egyptian and Turkish examples of political Islam with their peaceful, democratic and legitimate rise to power have managed to disappoint. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt became the victim of a military coup; but any objective analysis should also accept that the MB was also the victim of its own incompetence and authoritarianism. Ideally, the party should have been punished at the polls by the Egyptian people, instead of being taken out by a military coup…..

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