Islam and Pluralism
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
While the evolution of this comprehensive and coherent theology of peace and pluralism will remain a continuing process, the already available essential elements of this theology should be brought to the Muslim masses. Since support for such a venture cannot be expected from clerics, of any hue, popular acceptance of this theology should be gained through the use of media as well as genuine grassroots movements.
Essentially, Jihadism is a Muslim problem and Muslims must tackle it. But the societies in non-Muslim majority countries can help kick-start the debate. It must be understood that a madrasa graduate who has been brainwashed into believing, as most are, that "life begins in the grave," is a ticking time bomb that should be defused with the same urgency as other bombs are. A secular government should not allow anyone to spread the poison of intolerance and xenophobia either in mosques or in madrasas. A study of what is taught in Indian madrasas, and the content of sermons delivered in mosques, is urgently required. If found intolerant, supremacist, exclusivist and xenophobic, the ulema, madrasas and imams should be confronted with them and asked to change.
Also, the least the government of India can do to ameliorate the plight of Muslim women today is to promulgate a law similar to Pakistan's Muslim Family Laws Ordinance of 1961, with just one difference, fixing the age of marriage of girls at 18, instead of 14, as in the Ordinance. This should have been done along with reforms in Hindu personal laws in the 1950s, or at least immediately after reforms in Muslim laws in Pakistan. But better half a century late than never. Male chauvinist Indian Muslim ulema will still howl in protest. But they will not have much to say as these reforms have been acceptable to their counterparts in Pakistan and Bangladesh for over half a century. ... Muslims have to start reclaiming the Islam that the Prophet had brought and rethinking how it can be lived and practised in the vastly changed circumstances of the 21st century.