Books and Documents
Islam and Politics

Two States in a Nation
Meena Menon

As I was leaving Pakistan, my thoughts were on the warmth I had received, the many friendly people I had met but equally so on the intimidation I had faced from some quarters. However, I will cherish my hikes, the long walks and some of the good friends I made. I will also remember how the ‘other half’ lives in the capital, in sprawling slums with their broad and stinking gutters; the women from Skardu collecting firewood near an opulent hotel; the threatened Christians huddling under tents after being displaced from their homes; the plight of the Ahmadis and Shias, and a certain grimness that lay behind all that opulence…..

The Battle for Power in Iraq
Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The Battle for Power in Iraq
Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The plurality of parties, regardless of how small they are, reflects the nature of the morose political situation. This must be blamed on Nouri al-Maliki’s administration as despite eight years of governance, it failed to achieve Iraqi reconciliation particularly after American troops withdrew. Instead of embracing bigger and multiple parties, Maliki’s administration adopted an elimination and marginalization policy……

Minority, Like Majority
Abusaleh Shariff

It is hard to find a political leader at any level of government, but especially at the national level, who could present the positive face of the Muslim community and their role in nation building. It seems unfair that even after 67 years of independence, one has to speak for the country’s largest minority, made up of more than 170 million Indians. But it is important to note that they are as diverse as the dominant community of India…..


Time for Arabs to Create New Political Ideologies
H.A. Hellyer

Often, it seems as though a substantial number of Arab “liberals” cannot be considered to be attached to liberalism at all – but rather, they’re simply opposed to other ideologies instead. Socialism, communism – and, more recently, Islamism. A political approach whose raison d’etre is to simply be different from another – or just opposed to it – is hardly going to be capable of the creativity and energy that is needed in order to face the serious problems in the Arab world today……

66 Years On, Yafa Continues To Inspire Palestinian Spirit
Ramzy Baroud

“Sido (grandpa) please tell us stories about your adventures in Yafa,” we would plead him, as he sat atop an old mattress in his special corner of a small, decaying house in a refugee camp in Gaza. His stories, which he conveyed with much suspense, trod a fine line between truth and fantasy. When I grew up, I realized that the fantasy was not simply his way to amuse us children, but also a way to express how Yafa represented my grandfather’s greatest triumphs and most humiliating defeats…..


Shameless Apologia: All the Endeavour of Progressive Muslims Is Dedicated To Shielding Their Ideology from Criticism, when it’s Actually This Critique That Would Lead To Necessary Reform
Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

By claiming that criticism in unjustified, and denying the rather obvious influence of religion on religious extremism, one contradicts the “progressive” and “reformist” labels. While there is no denying that an irrational phobia of Muslims exists all over the world – considerably less than irrational phobia of people belonging to all other religions in the Muslim world, one might add –the term “Islamophobia”, used to shield the ideology, not the people, from scrutiny – and hence reform –, again, becomes a self-defeating misnomer.....

Mixing Politics and Religion in the Middle East
Mohammad Alrumaihi

The region will not be the same after May 26-27. The title of the new chapter may be “politics and religion” — which in fact has been with us for almost the entire 20th century. General Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, the most probable candidate to be elected for the presidency in Egypt, has gone on record saying there’s “no way the Muslim Brotherhood will be rehabilitated, or allowed to participate in future politics of Egypt”……

Modi's Dream Win: Barring Shahi Imam And Aziz Burney's Azizul Hind, No Urdu Paper Engages In Scare-Mongering, All Ask Muslims To Wait And Watch For The Promised Good Times

Pseudo-secular politicians had been scaring Muslims for long of a saffronised India under Mr. Narendra Modi. Even figures like 22, 000 Muslims will be killed in that scenario were bandied about. [How was the calculation made is, of course, anybody's guess.] However, a quick survey of Delhi's Urdu Press, the only barometer of Muslim opinion in the country available, reveals  that barring Shahi Imam's statement published in Mr. Aziz Burney's Azizul Hind daily, and the newspaper itself and a few columnists, no Urdu newspaper is engaged in scare-mongering. No dire predictions are being made. All have accepted the verdict of the people and say in a democracy the people's verdict should be always accepted and welcomed as it reflects the collective wisdom of the people. All editorial writers are asking Muslims to wait and watch for the promised good times. .....

Iran’s Role in the Middle East Grows
Rami G. Khouri

The heartland of political violence has been the vast area covering Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, which effectively has become a single operational arena in terms of the ease of movement of fighters and weapons for those who do battle around here……


What Do The Arab People Want?
Khaled Almaeena

Sadly, they did not adopt the right approach and they resorted to force to change the domestic status quo. Thus we witnessed coups and counter coups throughout the 1950s and 60s. Many were bloody. While Egypt had relative stability after the revolution in 1953, self-appointed saviors of the Arab world and “liberators of Palestine” popped up in Syria, Iraq and Libya. Their misadventures caused Arabs a lot of hardship……


Failed Democracy and the Soma Tragedy
Nuray Mert

Some of the most shining examples of post-Cold War “economic miracles” are also examples of “social misery” and “political malady,” from major China to minor Singapore. The most recent election victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India is another bad omen for the global retreat from democracy, another promise for an economic miracle at the expense of social misery.…...


Muslims Must Fix Boko Haram
Mike Ghouse

Poor religion has been an easy target of blame for the evils men do, as if it is a tangible being that can be beat up, butchered, buried, and put to rest. Blaming religions does not do any good; it's like barking at the wrong tree; but getting to the individuals and having a conversation with them increases the chance of building cohesive societies……

A Secularism Gone To the Moths
Saba Naqvi

A cold, calculated round of bloodletting that involved children being shot dead should have been a sobering moment for India, since presumably we are human beings before we split into Hindu and Muslim. Yet a day later, the nation’s PM-in-waiting travelled to another state that borders Bangladesh and has a large Muslim population. In West Bengal, Narendra Modi declared that worshippers of Durga are welcome to Hindustan and they will stay here. But the “infiltrators” would be deported. The same day, his most loyal deputy Amit Shah travelled to Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, which has a large Muslim population, and described it as a “base of terrorists”....

"What's important is that our behavior is Islamic and by that I mean upholding justice, rule of law, defending ordinary citizens' rights, welfare, health, stability—all that is in line with Islam," said Said Aqil Siradj, the head of NU. "We don't need an Islamic country or Islamic parties to do that."……


Israel and Palestine: Two States and the Extra Step
John Bell

The lessons for the future may come from an unusual place:  current reality. The "facts on the ground" in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (over half a million settlers), the impossible Israeli political system, the deep demands of the Palestinians, and the unravelling of the Arab world may all have something to tell us......


The Muslim Brotherhood’s Anger at Sisi’s Piousness
Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Sisi certainly struck a chord and made the Brotherhood lose their temper and he competed with them by talking about his vision of religion. Until recently, the Brotherhood were accusing him of being against Islam and Muslims. Sisi succeeded at the test of faith, and the Brotherhood’s confusion stood out from their contradiction. Are they accusing him of fighting Islam or of using it? Religion is, after all, the only political card that was actually winning…..


The Untold Story of Yemen
Ramzy Baroud

In fact, little was known about Yemen in the West before October 2000, when U.S. naval vessel U.S.S Cole was damaged in a suicide attack, killing 17 U.S. military men. The attack was later blamed on al-Qaeda, paving the way for the opportune narrative, which continues to define U.S. involvement in Yemen until this day. The U.S. “war on terror” had in fact reached Yemen even before the war in Iraq was unleashed a few years later….


Lessons from Arab Spring Go Unheeded By Political Islam
William Leong Jee Keen

By successfully incorporating religious claims within their agenda, these movements were able to launch powerful critiques against those regimes that were undergoing a growing legitimacy crisis. They were also able to derive support from large segments of society that were frustrated with the corruption, authoritarianism and patronage of those existing regimes. As protest movements, these Islamist parties never felt the need to develop habits of negotiation and compromise ……


Democracy and Religion: No Organised Religion Should Stand As an Obstacle to Democratic Realisation or Present Itself as an Excuse for Its Delay
Saad Hafiz

Democracy is an institution that enshrines universal human rights and the principle of equality within it, based on reason and common sense. There is no alternative to democracy. All nations should move towards it. No culture or tradition nor any organised religion should stand as an obstacle to its realisation or present itself as an excuse for its delay. There are no variations in democracy when it comes to upholding basic human rights and defending it for the wellbeing of the people.....

“Sisi is personally interested in ‘true Islam’ and ‘correct Islam’ and undermining the Islamist movements,” said Ashraf al-Sherif, a lecturer in political science at the American University in Cairo. “It’s part of his personal mission.”….


After the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, a debate raged among Egyptians and Tunisians over the very nature of their societies. How much of the ongoing “Islamisation” was imposed and manufactured, and how much of it was an “authentic” representation of society? Without the stifling yoke of dictatorship, some reasoned, Arabs would finally be able to express their true sentiments without fear of persecution. The ensuing—and increasingly charged—debate over the role of religion in public life put Western analysts and policymakers in the uncomfortable position of having to prioritize some values they hold dear over others…..

The Random Muslim Scare Story Generator: Separating Fact from Fiction
Nesrine Malik

In Britain, there is now a cycle of Islamic scare stories so regular that it is almost comforting, like the changing of the seasons. Sadly, this rotation is not as natural, or as benign, although it is beginning to feel just as inevitable. We had the Niqab winter last year, as the country lurched into the Niqab debate for the second time in three years. Now we are in the spring of Halal slaughter....


Turkey is not North Korea – nor Syria, nor Egypt
Burak Bekdil

The truth is, a country does not become a first-class democracy just because its foreign minister publicly states twice a week that it is not a second-class democracy. That’s not really a sign of self-confidence, a quality which, this columnist knows, Mr. Davutoğlu strongly urges every Turk to possess.  Self-confidence is good. One of the traits that proves this is the virtue not to take accusations too seriously. Another, perhaps, is to avoid laughable propaganda. ….


The Muslim League and Pakistan
Yaqoob Khan Bangash

A strong party structure was important to function in a democratic setup post-independence, but over dependency on one ‘charismatic leader,’ i.e. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, made the whole state machinery lopsided…..


Despite A Bleak Arab Spring, the Youth Still Have Time
H.A. Hellyer

It is not simply that we believe the revolutions “failed” – it is that we begin to question whether or not they were a good idea in the first place. Some of the more honest do not obscure their real beliefs – perhaps what they believed all along – that, indeed, the revolutions were an awful idea It is an attractive idea. Looking throughout the Arab world, the situation appears far bleaker…..

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