Dr. Mohammad Ghitreef, New Age Islam
Recently a well known Urdu columnist wrote an article on Muslim World's malaise in today's world. He did not delve into the real problems facing the Ummah i.e. crisis in Muslim mind, stereotypes and dogmas, lagging behind in education and lacking in scientific thinking and approach which has resulted in economic, political and all-round backwardness of Muslims. Rather strangely, he discussed the situation in a bizarre manner, concentrating mainly on conspiracies being hatched and spun everywhere in the world against Islam and Muslims. He cited this as the major cause of the decline of the Ummah….
Aijaz Zaka Syed
We seem to have lost ourselves in the literal world of dogma, leaving somewhere behind the soul and spirit of a generous, powerful faith. We see technology and innovation that the rest of the world hungrily laps up as a challenge. We fear change. We are afraid of women who drive and work. We even fear harmless schoolgirls. I know there is no concept of clergy or a global religious leader in Islam. But the faithful can certainly do with some leadership and much-needed guidance right now. It is time to rediscover the spirit of the faith……
Kunwar Khuldune Shahid
As long as harsh punishments for blasphemy, and its offshoots for apostasy, atheism and bizarrely ‘liberalism’, exist, prisoners of conscious will continue growing in number. The rise of irreligion all over the Muslim world, and the rising demands for secularism will force the Muslim world to finally overcome the Islamist inertia. What the Muslim states need to decide is whether this transformation will be carried out peacefully, through owning up to problems in religious scriptures which form antediluvian laws that suffocate basic human rights, or if there will be even more unnecessary suppression and bloodshed. The transformation, however, is inevitable.....
Islamic law does not allow Muslims to take up arms and go shoot people who have insulted their religion. Who has appointed these gunmen as the avengers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)? And does Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) need anyone to avenge him? The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained that when the man was insulting Abu Bakr and he remained silent, the angels were defending and protecting him, but when Abu Bakr spoke to defend himself, the angels left…..
It is perhaps time to define the role of madrasas. During the colonial period the madrasa offered Muslim children the facility of instruction in religious matters that was not available at public schools. The madrasa thus supplemented the scheme of educating the young ones. For that purpose the madrasa is no longer needed, for study of religion is compulsory in all state and private institutions. If the madrasas constitute a parallel system of education then the rationale for their existence and unchecked proliferation needs to be scrutinised….
Although Salafists have great political power in the Islamic world, given the financial support they have been receiving for years from religious institutions in Saudi Arabia, Sufism is still seen as a widespread way of life in the Islamic street, from Morocco to India. This will play a great role in religious reform, which is much needed by the Islamic world to confront extremism…..
Talking to New Age Islam, some of the protestors including madrasa students, university graduates, Sufi shrine patrons and mainstream Muslims said they got alarmed learning that Dr. Zakir Naik, propagandist of the exclusivist and exclusionary Wahhabi ideology had been invited by India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC) to address a religious gathering. They held that Dr. Naik’s address to the Muslims of Delhi should be a matter of great worry for anybody who has even a superficial understanding of the Wahhabi ideology and activities of his ahl-e-Hadeesi organisation. “That Zakir Naik is a strident exponent of the radical Wahhabi ideology is common knowledge. Therefore, his arrival and address in Delhi will further exacerbate the delicate social situation in the capital. This is precisely why several state governments and other some foreign countries have disallowed his entry. Obliviously, they are afraid of promotion of communal feelings posing threat to India's multiculturalism”, they said… ..
We curse him while trying to cram verses from Deewan-e-Ghalib into our heads for our Urdu literature exams. We study him because we have been told to but if – by some miraculous, unfortunate realignment of the stars – Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan, or Ghalib, was alive in 2014 rather than the 19th century, I am sure he would have been found hiding under the deck of a boat trying to escape to Australia. The first charge levied against him would have been of being an Indian agent…
I couldn’t get a straight answer from anyone, so I did my own research. I couldn’t find anything in the Qur’an or the Hadith on comedy. In fact, there are stories of the Prophet Muhammad laughing at practical jokes played by his companions and joking himself with his family. And a lot of verses in the Qur’an advise reasonable judgment when going about life. So I employed mine. As a practicing Muslim, I was uncomfortable making fun of the prophets or the divine. But I did want to make fun of Muslims. Narrow-minded, patriarchal men….
I am emphatically not dismissing the equally worrying issue of anti-Muslim bigotry. I’m just as committed to fighting that as I am to combating terrorism. But a religion is defined by its followers. They are the ones who interpret scripture and incorporate it into everyday practice. So it’s vital, should that religion be ‘hijacked’ in any way, that the majority at least discusses the problem…..
Pakistan has more than 8,000 people on death row. Its courts award death penalty for 27 types of offences, including murder, rape, kidnapping, drug trafficking, and blasphemy, and several terrorism-related crimes. In 2013, according to Amnesty International, Pakistan sentenced 226 people to death, compared to 80 in the United States. Yet the moratorium on death penalty had ensured that no such sentence was executed since 2008 with the exception of a soldier….
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam
The beautiful Islamic discourses compiled by the Sufis and mystics of India that were taught in madrasas in the distant past, are no more in their study materials. Not even Sufi-oriented madrasas of today teach the books like Kashful Mahjub, Fawaid ul Fuwad, Awariful Ma’arif; historical documents of Islamic mysticism that preach universal values, communal harmony, love for all and hatred for none. Gone are the days when books on reason, wisdom, ethics and morality such as Gulsitan and Bostan of Shaikh Sa’di were the part of Madrasa curriculum in India. Far from presenting the broader Islamic notion of Deen and Ummah, present-day madrasa curricula concern the students with the ideological reproduction of their own sect (Maslak) and school of law (Fiqhi Mazhab)....
France has the largest Muslim minority in the West. Almost 10 percent of its population is Muslim. This is the highest figure in the Western world. It is true that many Muslims suffer from discrimination, socio-economic deprivation and so on, but the majority of them have successfully integrated to the wider society and neither the wider society nor the state have purposefully tried to make life difficult for Muslims. On the contrary, when you compare Muslim-majority countries' treatment to their own Muslims citizens with the treatment that the French Muslims get, the leaders of the Muslim countries must be ashamed of themselves….
A few months back, an incident happened in a UAE mosque, where a non-Muslim woman stormed into it wearing her shoes and ripped a poster that had a prayer on it and threw it in the dustbin. A Pakistani man, who probably felt like the world had ended, went to the Imam of the mosque and complained to him about what had happened. The Imam assured him he would deal with it. When he didn’t do anything for a day, the Pakistani went back to him and insisted he call the police and again was told that he would do what was to be done and he need not worry about it. After a few days when the Imam did nothing, as neither his world had ended nor had his religion, the Pakistani took the matter into his own hands and went to the woman’s workplace and stabbed her multiple times to death…..
Maulana Maududi is a household name across the country and is the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the main religio-political parties in Pakistan. Readers might be surprised to know that Maulana Maududi has also said that an act of blasphemy does not leave non-Muslims liable to capital punishment by the state. What punishment then, would our clergy, our Mumtaz Qadris, and our vigilante mobs, like to prescribe for their revered religious figures, the founders of their sects and 450 of the most prestigious scholars in South Asia and around the world, for allowing pardon for non-Muslims?......
Depending on the news channel you watch and media that you read, you might think all Muslim leaders are sword-waving radicals and extremists. And matters are not helped by the recent wave of terror attacks in Africa and other parts attributed to fundamentalist Muslims dominating the headlines. They don’t get as much attention, but moderate Muslims keep telling anyone who will listen to remember that these are far from actuality of what Islam is all about……
Nawar Fakhry Ezzi
As new royal decrees contain provisions which include atheists in the definition of terrorist groups, many Saudis have been trying to discover the reasons for atheism in Saudi Arabia and how to combat it. Some Saudis claim that this relatively high percentage could be the result of reading "philosophical" books or the interaction between Saudi students and atheists abroad. It is interesting though how people still cling to the myth that living in isolation physically and intellectually would protect us from straying from the right path….
The first Muslims are believed to have settled in Taiwan, formerly known as Formosa, in 1683 along with the Qing Dynasty. But the majority assimilated into the mainstream culture and gradually stopped practicing Islam. Most Taiwanese Muslims today are the children and grandchildren of soldiers of the Kuomintang (KMT), the Chinese Nationalist Party led by Chiang Kai-Shek. They settled in Taiwan in 1949, following their defeat by China's communists led by Mao Zedong…..
Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan
Toronto activist Tarek Fatah and University of Western Ontario academic Salim Mansur testified before the Senate committee on national defence and security and made statements that are inaccurate and divisive. Fatah stated, according to his article in the Toronto Sun on November 25 that Friday congregations in mosques across Canada begin with a prayer for victory of Muslims over Christians, Jews and Hindus. So relying on religious clerics to fight radicalization is like employing the fox to guard the chicken coop, he wrote……
This is the reason therefore that new Muslim converts would attribute the use of intelligent reasoning, reflection and critical thinking when explaining their journey to Islam. Such people cut through the hysteria created by some in the media to view Islam from a critical lens and following the truth thus comes naturally to them as part of this process. How else can one explain the increase in conversions with the increase of anti-Islam rhetoric? How else can one explain that more non-Muslim preachers have been converting to Islam than ever before?....
Muhammad Tahir Iqbal
If you go for this argument, you find doctors, engineers and the elite besmeared with extremist ideologies. Recently, a practicing surgeon of the UK with Pakistani origin joined the ranks of Jamat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter group of the Tehrik-e-Taliban, Pakistan. Adnan Rasheed, a hardcore terrorist, is from another class; and Faisal Shahzad hails from an elite one. There are three stages in the evolution of these madrasas in Pakistan: pre-Soviet war, post-Soviet war and post 9/11. These three stages spreading over three different eras carry three different ideologies…..
But why are religious leaders, the priests, Maulanas and Muftis the Muslims’ professional leaders and representatives? How can they be when they have no basis in the Muslim scheme of things? That is the tragedy for the community that their political leadership is dependent upon the church based hierarchy which in itself is out of place. Therefore a felony is further compounded! Were Manal and Mahmud pointing this out? Muslims as a community have contributed hugely to the making of this country. The Indonesians, Malays, the Afghans camel drivers, the Turks and many professionals from other Muslim countries have made and are making their silent contribution. …..
Unfortunately for the liberals, these are not the arguments of ‘Islamists’. Each can be verified independently against the classical, orthodox books of law and theology. Whilst some may de-prioritize the Caliphate, consider it too difficult to form immediately, or choose to defer its establishment, these are a function of practical considerations not a challenge to the requirement of governing according to Islam under a Caliphate. Those who have attempted to challenge this requirement directly have found themselves ostracized from classical Islamic learning, whether by the Ulema or the people at large…..
... it is a paradox that Iqbal’s philosophy of Khudi is in itself inspired by the Vedanta philosophy of Surati and Nirati, the two stages in meditation as described by the Bhakti Sadhaks. Surati means realization of the union of self with the Creator and Nirati means detachment from all the material associations and feelings. Thus, Surati and Nirati are the two sides of meditation. Without detachment from worldly associations (Nirati) one cannot achieve Surati (union with the Supreme Being). Iqbal took the idea of Khudi and Bekhudi from the Vedanta philosophy of Surati and Nirati. He wrote two poems, one Asrar-e-Khudi (Secrets of Surati) and Ramooz-e-Bekhudi (Secrets of Nirati). …..
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
(This open letter to the so-called Shahi (Royal) Imam (prayer-leader) of Jama Masjid, Delhi, Syed Ahmad Bukhari, first appeared in The Hindustan Times on March 12, 2001. I was reminded of this today with the Imam deliberately creating a controversy by inviting the Prime Minister of Pakistan but not the Prime Minster of India for the ceremony to anoint his son as the Deputy Imam and his successor. He apparently did this to remind the country of his existence.
The real tragedy, however, is that this comical imam is taken so seriously by politicians as well as media. It is this that has made the man delusional. He can't even get a family member elected as a municipal corporater from the Muslim-dominated Jama Masjid area. But he is treated by political parties as royalty, as if he were the leader of the entire 150 million Muslims of the country.
It's time the government of India realised that the Mughal rule is over and there is no role for hereditary transfer of imamship agreed to by Mughal kings for their own funny reasons. We are supposed to be ruled by the constitution of India which has no place for hereditary succession to any post. Islam, of course, has very clear rule for the appointment of imams and from all accounts, members of Bukhari's family do not qualify in the presence of reputed scholars living in the area from where namazis to that mosque come.)