Virtual warrior Sultan Shahin takes on Muslim fundamentalists through his website NewAgeIslam.com
By Mohammad Wajihuddin, The Times of India, Mumbai
In a tiny room in East Delhi’s Patparganj, a man spends most of his waking hours at his computer. This passion may be something he shares with millions, but Sultan Shahin is no ordinary web addict. Behind his constant surfing, writing and posting pieces on his website called newageislam.com is a steadfast purpose: to reclaim Islam from the clutches of jihadists and petrodollar-funded Salafist-Wahhabis.
Shahin, who ideologically fights the religious right — the tyrannical Taliban and its sympathisers as well as the many Islamic supremacists who claim that Islam alone is Allah’s chosen path to paradise — is a spirited web warrior. “My fight is against petrodollar Islam,” he declares. “I am creating a forum that will lead us to the understanding of a pluralistic, inclusive, tolerant Islam.” And Islam, he adds, is not a new religion. “The Quran says this. It is a reiteration and revalidation of earlier religions,” he avers, seated at his study stacked with scholarly tomes, including several copies of the commentaries on the Quran.
Anathema as this may be to fundamentalists, it’s won Shahin many followers. In the mere two years since the inception of newageislam.com, the website has 117,000 registered subscribers (subscription is free), claims its 60-year-old editor. Its daily newsletter, brought out by a skeletal staff of five, has carried debates on issues and personalities seldom talked about among mosque-going, visibly pious Muslims. So the Mumbai-based Muslim televangelist Dr Zakir Naik is slammed, not because he is allegedly funded by the petro-rich Saudi Sheikhs, but because he tries to establish the supremacy of Islam over all other religions. Niyaz Fatehpuri, a 20th-century Indian scholar and editor of Urdu periodical Nigaar, has become a much admired man on the website because of his rational, ingenious interpretation of Islamic principles. The website even follows the Urdu press, including Urdu dailies in Pakistan, and uploads the rational views in it, both in their original Urdu and English translations.
The feedback, says Shahin, has been astounding. “When I launched it, I didn’t realise it would generate so much interest, especially in young Muslims, from Australia to Abu Dhabi and Canada to Coimbatore,” explains the journalist who, ironically, began his career way back in the 1970s at the conservative Jamaat-e-Islami’s mouthpiece weekly Radiance, then based in the by-lanes of Ballimaran in Old Delhi.
Son of a maulvi, Shahin grew up in a village in the backwaters of Aurangabad in Bihar, and remembers the many nights, he, along with his five siblings, went to bed hungry as his father fell ill and later died, leaving the responsibility of supporting the family on Shahin’s young shoulders. While studying in a college in Patna, he worked part-time for a couple of local Urdu dailies. Shahin later landed up in London as editor of Asia Times, a weekly owned by one Arif Ali of Indian origin. A decade or so in England, he says, gave him great experience “as it exposed me to different strains of Islam and Muslims”. Like, once at a friend’s house in Nottingham, he heard a 20-year-old Muslim extolling the virtues of Ahle Hadees, a sect which propagates puritanical Islam. Shahin asked the boy the treatment he would prescribe for those Muslims who didn’t follow the Ahle Hadees sect. “Kill them,” said the young fanatic in a cold-blooded tone. “It really disturbed me. The boy had apparently been influenced by radical organisations like Al Mujahidun and Hizb-ut-Tehrir. Thousands of young Muslims had been brainwashed by incendiary preacher Omar Bakri who commanded the following that saints do,” recalls Shahin. “I knew it would not take long before the fires of fanatic Islam reached the Indian subcontinent and consumed our youth.”
Shahin personally encountered the ugly face of exclusivist, supremacist Wahhabism in India when he left the London job to edit a magazine in Delhi in the 1990s, backed by a group of influential, educated, “enlightened” Muslims. A few months into his new job, over breakfast one morning, a member of the management asked him a strange question: “You have been married to a Hindu (Pragya) for a decade. Why have you not been able to bring her under the fold of Islam?” “I quoted him the Quranic verse La ikraha fiddeen (there is no compulsion in religion) and reasoned that to convert or not to Islam was her personal choice. But it didn’t cut any ice and they sacked me,” Shahin says.
He went into deep depression, as the blow had been dealt by the people whom he believed to be “the cream of Indian Muslim society”. He took to freelancing aggressively in the national press, opposing the conservative mindset, a mentality which threatened the multicultural, pluralistic ethos of India and Indian Islam. Many in the Sangh Parivar, including the BJP, mistook him for the right medium to reach out to Muslims. “They didn’t know that many Muslims hated me. I was a bad choice to become a bridge between the Sangh Parivar and Muslims,” laughs Shahin, who has been variously addressed as kafir (infidel), munafiq (hypocrite) and even Dear Zionist.
His liberal, rational advocacy of Islamic principles, especially since he launched the website, has enraged many Islamists, who hack his website regularly and post abusive letters and rejoinders. Many threaten him with the fires of hell. “Initially, I left the site unmonitored, as I wanted a free and frank dialogue. But now we monitor it, as we discovered that not just the jihadists, but even some Viagra-selling companies were using the website to advertise their products,” he smiles. “We sell ideas, not aphrodisiacs.”
A father of four, Shahin’s deep study of religions, especially Islam, has made him conclude that like Adam, Moses and Mohammad, Ram and Krishna were also prophets. “If we address Mohammad as Hazrat Mohammad, I have no reservations about addressing Ram as Hazrat Ram,” he explains.
As we leave this champion of rational, inclusive Islam, we marvel at India’s generous secularism. Which Islamic country would have tolerated a Shahin? Ask Salman Rushdie or Taslima Nasreen.
Source: The Times of India
I hope one converted to Islam will write a book how this world will look like when all are converted to Islam. Today 1.3 billion converts are uneducated unproductive living in 58 nation can be the example for all future converts. India of today will look like Afghanistan in future. America in future will look like Iran or Iraq. Do you want this?
World with no libaries. No books NO TV no cinema no dance, no music, no temples with murties no picture of any one all burned destroyed .I can see whole world will be burning as all books will be burned where in not mentioned. World will be back to Stone Age. Can some prove me wrong?
Look at Kashmir in last 20 yrs after becoming Muslim majority.
Please write this book before it’s too late. Your children need to know what you are working for.
When almighty God make us all different why few followers of god wants all to think in one way. And live one way.
I hope some converts will put two and two to gather to see the future before they make it a hell on earth for their heaven under the ground.
Hello, first of all I appreciate the need and the effort continued by the newageislam.com and esp. by Shahin sahib. I totally agree with his views but at times one tends to think somewhat agnostically. One tend to think that any IDEA or any belief system no matter how great it may be if it has such a great potential for misuse or abuse then it cannot be good. Although the IDEA might be having great potential for goodness but what we see is that practically the negative and dangerous potential is being fully exploited while the positive potential is least exploited. I think the only possible proof for the goodness or badness of an IDEA is to see its practical manifestation and the practical shape of a society which comes into being on the basis of that IDEA. One can see how far the idea has been implemented/adopted in practical life and here one can find the degree of the possibility of how far the idea was adoptable. I mean to say that unless the root cause of the dispute is there the dispute can never be resolved. One tends to think that FAITH is a purely personal matter and it must be kept so. Until it remains a public matter the dispute will rather multiply and magnify. But again it will take a long time and only time will make it to evolve that way. The advent of science and esp. cosmology has increasingly undermined the geo-centric ideas of religions and the narrow personified conceptions of the ultimate supreme force or THE BIG MYSTRY and the new belief system should be somewhat cosmic. Infarct the new knowledge has revealed how negligible/insignificant the planet earth is in the context of eternal time and space. All geo-centric views and concepts, truths and false become equally negligible/insignificant. To be able to keep the search for truth the most important issue is to first ensure the survival and safety of the planet earth and its eco-system. Efforts must be made to make the humans understand that they have common stakes, common past and common future.
Mr.Ghulam Mohiyuddin said
"we do not want our lives to be straitjacketed by rules and regulations so that we meet some medieval standards of "Deen" or "way of life". "
My comment: \
Precisely. Well said.
The more rigidity we bring into our lives the farther away we get from the true spirit of Islam and less likely it can be of any value to anyone. If as we believe Islam is for all mankind for all ages, then let us move away from skull caps and burqa type of islam. Think of how Isalm can be practiced by the Eskimos and by the anyone working in the space station where he/she sees sun rise and sunset every 40 minute. That would give only eight minutes of neemaz time (40 minutes divided by 5 = 8minutes).
Obviously God gave us Quran and the wisdom to extract its essence and make it applicable to all mankind at all times. God could have, if He had wanted to, filled the Quran with all the little details that we falsely call way of life such as the precise length of our beard and other such trivias. But He didn't ----must be for a reason. Only God knows best.
Quran is order of God but Hadees is a way of Life
As if God's order "Quran" did not prescribe the way of life. The order must be about some other stuff I suppose.
Then it had to be put together by someone decades after Prophet's death so that Muslims can have a way of life. Until then the Muslims did not know how to live.
Furthermore, it did not occur to those who complied the Quran that since Quran did not provide the way of life, to go ahead and put that material together while things were still fresh in people's mind.
It is established that the authenticity of Quran cannot be questioned.
Same way and to the same degree, the authenticity of Hadeeth cannot be questioned either.
This means that the authenticity of all those people, who brought all kinds of material to the writer of Hadeeth, also should be given the same wait as the authenticity of Quran or Hadeeth. Even when those people were not devine as the Prophet was. I cannot see how the authenticity of those people could be any less, for that matter. That is, only if we put Hadeeth and Quran at the same pedstal.
Son of a Moulvi?
First of all Mr. Shaheen Sb if any one who is not following Hadees(Ahl-e-hadees) he has not right so say that he is a muslim. every muslim should be ahl-e-hadees. coz quran is order of God but Hadees is a way of Life. If you have an any identity of Religion, you should follow the all fundamentals. If some one creating problem for you on behalf of religion then you know very well, what have to do. Nobody want to kill anyone without any strong resion. we should try to find out the condition of that boy who want to kill the all un-ahl-e-hadees. I think he is in pain & some one showing simpathy & motivating him for revange. Thats all.
Actualy we dont want to solve the problem. coz we are also motivated by some one like ...........(who know the use of media)
A Response to “ Virtual Warrior Sultan Shahin takes on Muslim fundamentalists through his website newageislam.com”
I have read his website. Like I read almost all Islamic websites to know what the “enemy” is thinking. It is rational and reasonable. BUT, but, like written in this article, lots of Muslims abuse him, and his reasonable thinking. They want a fanatic version of Islam and not his tolerant version. I joined issue with lots of his critics, (whose e-mails were published) asking what is wrong with his liberal version. No reply. Now pleaseeee don’t blame me for hating Islam.
[Offensive repetitions deleted—Ed.]
Islamic ideology is based on power, Sharia law, ruling many fabrics of society in order to rule by an iron fist.
Christians swept over Australia and what became America and created two great economic powers.
Islam swept over modern day Pakistan and Afghanistan and created to "hell wholes" and both rely on Western aid.
Both were wrong; full stop.........
Look, however, what Christian influenced nations became and look at what Islamized nations became - only a fool would deny reality....are you a fool FRIEND?
I am an Orthodox Christian - what are Muslims who pray to a black stone and walk around it 7 times during your pilgrimage?
Your Allah is dead - just recite, recite, recite................
What good comes from killing apostates? What good comes from regulating outdated concepts to the modern world never mind the old world?
Hindu dominated India is developing - Muslim dominated Pakistan is in free fall...............I wonder why?
Again it is Muslim sources which tell us about Satanic Verses - you see Mohammed mentioned other gods, did he not?
Allah was the main Moon God and this is on your mosques - do not claim that Paganism did not influence Islam to the extreme.
Anyway, the old Pagan world created Ancient Greece and so much knowledge and wisdom and we know Islam borrowed from Ancient Greece - just like Christians were influenced by Ancient Greek culture.
Therefore, yes, what happened to Native America was a sad reality but do not claim that it was based on creating a Christian state because "religion" and "state" do not mix in the Constitution of America.
The hatred unleashed by Islam in Afghanistan and what became Pakistan created Islamic based societies and of course backwardness.
Keep on begging to the West; after all, Islam is good at creating backwardness...........isn't it?
Hindus, Buddhists, and others are trying to get on with their lives in the UK but a sizeable minority of Muslims in the UK desire to challenge the nation state and it is Islam, Islam, Islam, and more Islam.
I wonder why Muslim migrants want to move to Australia, America, the UK, Germany, and other Christian/secular dominated nations so much.
Would Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, and even Muslims, desire to migrate to Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Mauritania, Yemen, Bangladesh, Algeria, and so on????
Yes, Islam needs to be taken out of all nations otherwise no modernity and instead more backwardness and more begging to the West. The God of Allah in the Koran created human beings who were deemed "infidels" and this then gave the right for Muslims to kill and persecute so-called "infidels." Wow, your God created in order to kill? The only "infidel religion is Islam" because nothing moral came from Mohammed - do not claim otherwise...... war, booty, and follow and recite or have your head taken from you if you desire to leave "a death cult" called Islam.
Muslims even killed the family line of Mohammed just like they killed early caliphs - yes, one big death cult based on slaughter, jihad, rape of the vanquished. [Offensive repetitions delete – Ed.]
Lee Jay Walker is a blank board on which suitable social messages can be written. The man who writes for him cannot stop doing so because he has a job to do. He has to generate responses of the Muslim mind for them to study its movement. I also treat him like that and would like to let them know.
In fact I would like to let them know that Islam does stand for good vis-a-vis evil, however painful it might be for the evil. Islam does not treat good and evil equally. In that sense the modern ‘equalizers’ (some of our Muslim ignorantia too) are quite right in criticizing Islam. But the position of Islam is that the question of good and evil takes precedence over the question of equality-inequality. There cannot be absolute equality between unequals. Incidentally this is also the position of all the constitutions of the world.
Now we see direct onslaught of evil against good. Of course Lee Jay and his likes do not care for Christianity because he is neither a Christian Englishman nor a converted Christian as he once claimed to be. He is an unbridled polytheist, for whom rejecting and accepting are one and the same. For him good and evil are synonymous. He can do lot of evil in the name of good. He can destroy lot of good in the name of evil. By identifying Islam as the focus of his attack he is hoping to overtake the Western world with his ideology of evil. I only hope that the Western world will know him for what he is. He certainly knows the weakness of the Western man for female flesh. And my hunch is that lee Jay is going to become the greatest supplier of this kind of meat in the non-vegetarian world to keep the Western world tagged to his ideology.
To understand Lee Jay better we refer to Dr. Zakir Naik’s presentation. Lee Jay can happily drink yellow colored smelly urine by calling it water. No matter sometimes he vomits as we see it on the pages of New Age.
But all said and done, Lee Jay is acutely aware that his existence is threatened, therefore some wild bites should be normally expected from the likes of him. This threat of Islam to Lee Jay however is not of the nature of threats to Red Indians or Australian aborigines who were innocent. In this case Lee Jay does not offer the prospect of destruction of a race or an identity or a nationality. His destruction would simply mean the destruction or the reduction of evil from the affairs of mankind. This will be exceedingly painful to Lee jay, I admit, but should not disturb the conscience of the ‘world community’. Islam is only a soap-powder for the scum of Lee Jay. And yet my advice is to hold back the soap-powder, till the ‘world community’ is done with the scum. Only when the ‘world community’ cries out in despair, is the time when soap-powder can be applied. Let favor not be done out of turn!
3275 11/3/2010 9:14:15 AM Lee Jay Walker Mohammed is not mentioned in the Old Testament or New Testament - no point to lie so blatantly.
Also, Mohammed said the world is flat like a carpet and he flew on a magical animal at the speed of light and visited a mosque in Jerusalem despite no mosque being in Jerusalem at this time - do you deny this?
Also, Jesus and the Apostles died in terrible pain and suffering for their faith - but when Mohammed was facing difficulties he mentioned the old Pagan gods which is known to be The Satanic Verses - WOOPS....Muslims do not like to talk about this because Mohammed caved in but without talking to Gabriel in his beloved cave................
Also, Mohammed misquotes both the Old Testament and New Testament - of course the New Testament does not do this because of the linkage and the New Testament does not change the thinking of anyone in the Old Testament - clearly the Moon God on your mosques and your Pagan black stone in Mecca point where Islam came from........or do you just like to ignore reality all the time?
And if you claim that Islamic invasions did not slaughter in India, did not destroy countless numbers of Hindu temples (Jain and Buddhist also), and then ate away at the heart of the culture and indigenous religion of India - then again, you are not telling the truth and everybody in this place knows this.
Wow, people are converting to Islam - given kitman, damn lies about Mohammed being a man of peace then not so shocked............
It means nothing, many people are converting to Buddhism, Christianity - and yes, many people are leaving Islam and Christianity.............so no point at all...........
Also, people have freedom to convert or leave all faiths in the West - in Mecca and Medina they just behead converts from Islam to Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and yes, even for leaving the faith and rejecting all religion - NOTICE YOUR DOUBLE STANDARDS?
Many people abuse children and women but do the numbers make it correct????
Of course not!
Many people take heroin in Afghanistan, Iran, America, Russia, and Pakistan - does this mean that heroin is good? Of course not............do you have any logic or do you reside in a dream world?
Mr. Walker, are you in your senses? Your accusations seem ridiculous. You say Muslims invaded India, raped and enslaved. These accusations are nothing but a bundle of non-sense. See MUSLIMS in India were Hindus and native people before the arrival of Islam in India. HOW COME, they accepted the religion of Invaders who raped their women and enslaved them (and didn't fight with them). Your senseless mind can never think straight. I tell you what happened, listen they ( then Hindus and now Muslims) had then with them SANATAN DHARMA and VEDAS in its un-tampered form to guide them to the true religion ISLAM. Because Every scripture predicts the ARRIVAL OF MOHAMMED (PBUH) even Bible and old testament too prophecies the arrival of Mohammed (PBUH). You can refer to'' Mohammed in Hindu scriptures'' by Ved Prakash Chatopadhay and you will be enlightened. If Islam is o bad and if Muslim s had then what you say they did, why are non-Muslims embracing Islam then even today, and all over the world?
Hello Rational Thinker, I sent quotes about your religion with regards to science and other areas. If you believe that the Angel Gabriel was directly talking to Mohammed all the time for several decades - then good for you - but it is not rational, is it? It is not rational to support killing apostates or homosexuals or to think that the earth is flat like a carpet and so forth.
I care little if people think that Christianity is false - you see, in my faith you are free to follow or reject and you do not need humans to kill in the name of God.
Quran 47: 4 When you meet the unbelievers in the Jihad strike off their heads…. - is this rational to you? Is this the love of God?
Hi lee jay (in response to your comments dated 10/30/2010 11:09:06 PM)
For the first time you have done a good job .. Lee jay.. that’s something that i would love answering ..
But the point is if i refute these doubts about Quran with logic, reasoning and knowledge about the latest discoveries , would you accept Quran as the book of God.. ?? If yes I am ready to clear all of your doubts (each one of them) (else what’s the purpose why should I waste my time since I am already clear on these??) .. So you have to make this public promise that you would accept Quran as the book of God after that...and i am making a promise publicly that if i am not able to refute these allegations then i would get back to Christianity. How about that.Doesn’t it sound fair? And doesn’t it speak volumes about the confidence and clarity I have on my faith and the lack of the same traits in you (if you timid away from accepting my challenge).
I am putting a limit on clarifications because of practical reasons like limited time and resources, since if you continue bringing up other verses which because of lack of your understanding (of language , reasoning or awareness about latest discoveries or historical context , and or wrong sequencing ) you have found contradictory , I would have to spend my whole life transferring all the knowledge and skills of language and reasoning and sciences, to make you understand each of the verse of Quran properly. Now this is practically not possible for me in spite of my above average patience (thanks to Islam) because of my other engagements. Hence for people like you I would suggest , pick TEN of the best of the best quotes which you think cannot be refuted in any way for holding a contradiction (from the once you have pulled out or even newer once) from QURAN and then make a public agreement with me that if I am able to refute each one of them with reasoning , knowledge and context (even if I miss one I loose and you win- what an unequal battle , but still) , then you would agree on my faith. Since it would clearly indicate that contradiction is not in the Quran but in the limit of knowledge or bias or context that you are seeing it in. Besides it should be clear to you that I can prove any of the other (lesser contradictory verses which you could not make much sense out of) to be rational as well, given the time.
In fact then on the premises that since a person of higher understanding and wisdom than yours , has chosen Islam as a religion for himself , it lies to your benefit that you should follow suit. (Although this comes under the category of blind faith and i don’t recommend it to people of understanding , but that’s still better than wrong faith by people of lower understanding) So what do you say... Choose the 10 most contradictory, most irrefutably controversial , verses (of QURAN .. ) and make an agreement with me for accepting my faith if i can prove (presuming you have basic common sense) its rationality. I am limiting it to 10 because of time limitation, else if i had unlimited time and resources, i could prove all. The very fact that i am telling you to choose randomly and challenging you that I will prove its rationality without doubt , should give you the indication of this truth..
So let’s begin the noble work of making a believer out of a non believer.
Its your turn now to give me the ten best that you can and its also a test of the faith of a christen and a Muslim ..Don’t let your christen brothers down by timidly ignoring this challenge (since its equal both ways- in fact I have kept myself at a disadvantage, clearly).
I know Christians might be deviated from the true religion, but surely they are not timid people. Let’s both accept this public challenge.