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Debating Islam

The universal notion of ‘Freedom of speech’ empowers the oppressed to speak against the oppressor, the subject against the King, the holder of one set of doctrine (sect, religion, politics etc.) to question or criticize its opponents and so forth. The objective is to open up human mind to new thoughts, allow it to explore fresh ideas, scan new horizons and rise to new heights. But if the freedom of speech is used in a calculated way to insult other’s deities and ii) demonize a group of people, a website that has the rubric of Islam attached to it, must not entertain it as the Qur’an, which is the highest authority on all matters in Islam does not permit either of the above attitudes (6:108, 49:11).....

Qur’anic Wisdom: Marriage and Treatment of Women
Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
Qur’anic Wisdom: Marriage and Treatment of Women
Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam

In this article, we will examine Qur’anic wisdom with reference to its legal prescriptions that have become the subject of controversy among some Muslims. The issues discussed relate to marriage and treatment of women.

1. Marriage with first cousins

2. Permission for taking upto four wives

3. Would gender justice demand that polyandry be permitted?

4. The argument for polygyny

5. Does Quran sanction wife beating?

Riots in Bellingham, Washington (1907) and Live Oak, California (1908) targeted the “rag heads,” the turban-wearing Sikhs. The mob “stormed makeshift Indian residences, stoned Indian workers and successfully orchestrated the non-involvement of local police.” The Bellingham Morning Reveille ran a drawing of a “Sikh” man with the caption, “This is the type of man driven from this city as the result of last night’s demonstration by a mob of 500 men and boys.” It was a mark of pride to have cleansed the city of the Sikhs....

Crisis in (Mis-) Education: The Changing Role of the Teacher
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam
Crisis in (Mis-) Education: The Changing Role of the Teacher
By Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

‘Classical’ civilizations based on religion envisaged a very different role for teachers, one that is almost completely lost today. Like in the ‘modern’ system, the teacher was considered to be the repository of knowledge, but that was not all. His role was not limited only to teaching students particular texts, as is the case today. Nor was the teaching and learning of texts the principal aim of the educational system....

 
In Hiroshima’s Shadow
Noam Chomsky
In Hiroshima’s Shadow
By Noam Chomsky

None were more shocked by the discovery of missiles in Cuba than the men in charge of the similar missiles that the U.S. had secretly deployed in Okinawa six months earlier, surely aimed at China, at a moment of elevated regional tensions. In brief, even at high risk of war of unimaginable destruction, it was felt necessary to reinforce the principle that U.S. has the unilateral right to deploy nuclear missiles anywhere.....

A fierce debate over circumcision has been raging in Germany for weeks and has caught Chancellor Merkel's government off guard. Berlin is now hoping to introduce a law regulating the practice, but it is a delicate issue due to the religious passions involved. It could take years before it is resolved. The agitation over a little piece of flesh certainly has its amusing sides, but the debate is very much a serious one, and controversial….

My ‘Modern Education’
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam
My ‘Modern Education’
By Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

But what good had the ‘modern education’ that I had received done me, I was now forced to ask myself. True, it had helped me win generously-funded fellowships and well-paid jobs, but, I now had to admit, that was about it. It had certainly done nothing at all to transform me into a better, more compassionate and loving human being, at peace with myself and with others.  In fact, it had done quite the reverse, and the damage was clearly evident in the unenviable predicament that I was faced with….

Musings on Mis-Education
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam
Musings on Mis-Education
By Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

It isn’t just a few eccentric folks who are deeply disturbed about what is now widely-recognised as the major crisis of ‘modern education’. ‘I really hate school.  I wish I didn’t have to go there every day,’ said my irate niece, After all, she wants to become a professional cook when she’s big and I know that twelve years of schooling and six years of university aren’t going to help her one bit for that role. Nor are they going to make her a better person.....

 
Controversies over Sighting the Moon: What is the Way out?
Ghulam Rasool, New Age Islam
Controversies over Sighting the Moon: What is the Way out?
By Ghulam Rasool, New Age Islam

However, it is forbidden and prohibited for Muslims living in the same country or community to fast or end their fast on different days. For example, the Muslims in India must fast on the same day; they must refer to the unanimous consensus of Indian Muslims, not the leadership of Muslims in any other country. They don’t need to refer to Muslims in Europe, America, Africa, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or anywhere else. Thus, Muslims should follow the directives and instructions adopted by the Islamic jurists or Darul Qada (دارالقضاء) in their community. All in all, it is forbidden to bypass the general consensus of Muslims in the country or community. Unity is the only objective behind such Islamic concepts....

What most Americans are blissfully unaware of is the fact that they carry in their pockets what have been described as near-perfect spy devices: their cell phones. ..."cell phone carriers reported that they responded to a startling 1.3 million demands for subscriber information last year from law enforcement agencies seeking text messages, caller locations and other information in the course of investigations."...

 
The Coming of the Emancipation Proclamation
Paul Finkelman
The Coming of the Emancipation Proclamation
By Paul Finkelman

Lincoln’s strategy was to argue that the loyal slave states would help the war effort by showing the rebels “that, in no event, will the states you represent ever join their proposed Confederacy.” While Lincoln did not expect the Border States to secede and join the Confederacy, he argued that voluntary emancipation in those states would be a blow to Confederate hopes and morale....

Treating Body and Soul in a Mosque
Azrul Mohd Khalib
Treating Body and Soul in a Mosque
Azrul Mohd Khalib

Many people might think that mosques are no place for drug addiction treatment, but those responsible for setting up a noteworthy drug treatment clinic in a mosque think it can be done – and are demonstrating the importance of religious leaders tackling social problems at the same time. Faced with the need to provide drug addiction treatment services for drug users living in nearby low-cost housing areas that were both inexpensive and accessible to the community, the UMCAS team hit upon the idea of using mosques as service delivery points....

 
Why is New Age Islam So Critical Of The Ulama?
Maulana Nadeemul Wajidi in New Age Islam
Why is New Age Islam So Critical Of The Ulama?
Maulana Nadeem-ul-Wajidi, Tr. By New Age Islam

A respected Deobandi scholar and prolific Urdu columnist on religious issues, Maulana Nadeemul Wajidi seems to be asking editors and contributors of New Age Islam, among some other Urdu columnists, why they criticize ulama (Islamic scholars) so much. As a matter of fact we value ilm a great deal and we naturally have the highest respect for the repositories of ilm that ulama are supposed to be. But if Juhala (ignoramuses) start claiming to be ulama on the basis of knowledge of books through rote learning while they are stopping the Muslim community from acquiring real ilm for which the Prophet asked us to go even as far as China (a country utterly devoid of Muslims at that time but full of non-Muslim scholars and artists), how is one to treat them. In the current article itself translated by Arman Neyazi of New Age Islam, the Maulana (itself an anomaly and perhaps “shirk” as this term should only refer to God) claims that Ilm (Knowledge) means knowledge of Deen.

Now, how on earth can one possibly feel any respect for such worthies who have spent a lifetime in madrasas and yet are so ignorant even of the history of madrasas, history of the greatest Muslim scientists, products of madrasas, who laid the foundation of modern European civilization? It’s not just a few ulama, as Maulana Saheb claims, who are making a few mistakes, it is the entire Darul Ifta of all such institutions in practically all schools of thought, that is making a mockery of Islam. And that is essentially because the so-called ulama are so awfully ignorant of current realities and sciences and arts other than some rote learning of the Quran and Hadees  that they cannot but make the Muslims a laughing stock and an object of Islamophobia. I hope readers of New Age Islam will have more to say on the subject. – Sultan Shahin, editor, New Age Islam

In this quest for ‘enlightenment’, nothing is held sacred, for that would be idiotic; nationalism is nothing but fascism, religiosity is the birth of barbarism, empathy a sign of stupidity. What makes this faction much worse than their illiterate counterparts is that these individuals had all the advantages of learning and education, yet they refused to open their hearts with the broadening of their minds and hence refused wisdom in the quest for knowledge….

Waiting For Manto’s Epitaph
Jawed Naqvi
Waiting For Manto’s Epitaph
Jawed Naqvi

It is this collective impotence and possible collusion too by his feigning admirers that has prevented his family from planting the plaque on his grave that should say,“Under tons of earth he lies, wondering who of the two is the greatest short-story writer: God or he.” Can we postpone the celebrations till we are capable of giving him back his epitaph?...

 
Food Culture An Issue Of Debate
Kancha Ilaiah
Food Culture An Issue Of Debate
Kancha Ilaiah

Though there are Brahmins who ritually eat meat and fish in several parts of western and eastern India, beef, somehow, has become a spiritual untouchable, maybe because of cow worship of Brahmanism. Beef may have gone out of Hindu food culture, but it has survived among SC/STs and some OBC communities. The Bible, for example, says, “You may eat any animal that has completely split hooves and that chews the cud….

 

The Quran discusses scientific facts on many occasions and exhorts man to continually strive to understand the scientific secrets hidden in the universe. … The Quran advises man to keenly observe God’s wisdom hidden in the universe and asks him to move about on earth and study and observe the creation of God scattered everywhere. But the purpose behind the study and observation should be to have a realization of God’s power and not to disturb the balance in the nature in his mad longing for worldly luxuries and material wealth.

The most fundamental and serious expression of anti-atheist bigotry in America is to deny atheists' very humanity on some level. The worst form is to deny that atheists have any reason to be moral because morality requires gods and/or morality proves the existence of gods. Denying that atheists are even "real" is a popular way of denying that atheists should be treated as equals. …

Rushdie’s saga is now, in many parts of the Islamic world, associated with a “Zionist plot” and the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, a short book concocted by the czarist police and presented as minutes of a secret meeting where Jews plotted world domination. According to Iranian officials, Rushdie is a “mercenary author masterminded by Zionism, Britain and the United States of America”. Today Iran is one of the major world printers of the “Protocols”, the only book that has ever had the perverse distinction of being both globally influential and, at the same time, a forgery. There is no accurate information on the sales of the “Protocols”, but it is undoubtedly one of the best sellers of all time. -- Giulio Meotti

 
'Moderate' Sultan Shahin on Islamophobia:  ‘Knowing Islam’ blog jeers at New Age Islam
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
'Moderate' Sultan Shahin on Islamophobia: ‘Knowing Islam’ blog jeers at New Age Islam
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

“When I came across this article, actually it is a verbatim of speech given by an Indian Muslim to UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council), I recognized the name 'Sultan Shahin' immediately and also his website 'New Age Islam' which claims to be speaking against radical Islam. Previously, I never read his works as I never believed that Islam can be reformed.
“When I read it, I found that, in most places, he says all the right things like hardship of religious minorities in Islamic nations, cruelty of blasphemy law and moderate Muslims having no influence among Muslims, desires of Muslims to implement Shariah law.
“It is quite easy to get carried away by this kind of presentation - seemingly honest - of acceptance of prevailing Islamic extremism and extend trust to believe in whatever he says regarding the nature of Islamic teachings. Because, he completely misrepresents many things, as one will understand while reading, like Islamic stand on other religions, position of Islam on interreligious marriages and teachings of Prophet Mohammad. I never read his work on Jihad, its meaning and implications, but I can imagine how that could be.
“So, is he an Islamic scholar standing for reforms in Islam or a deceiver or a Muslim who believes Islam to be a different one from mainstream line?
“He tells that Islam of terrorists, extremists and Islamic ulema - who spend their life in studying Islamic scriptures - is an aberration of true Islam and is a product of some 'Petro Dollars'; in the process he innovates by telling blatant lies and half-truths. So, the natural question should be 'why'?”

Above quotation is the introductory part of a 6, 000 word essay posted by a blog called Knowing Islam. This blog was created by someone who sought to understand Islam in the wake of dastardly attacks on Mumbai (26/11) by so-called Muslim or Islamic terrorists sent by Pakistan. His studies have led him to believe, like many Muslims themselves, that the Saudi Petrodollar Wahhabi Islam is the real Islam and the mainstream Islam is fake. He also has come to believe, understandably because of the immense visibility of Petrodollar Islam everywhere on the internet, that most Muslims in the world are Petrodollar Islamists. He (possibly she) has written a 6,000 word essay denouncing “Sultan Shahin, editor, New Age Islam,” as in his view “Sultan Shahin” represents moderate Islam. In his view Islam cannot be moderate. Hence the denunciation. He has spent so much time and effort dissecting every point “Sultan Shahin” makes in one of his oral statements to the UN Human Rights Council, that it would appear in his view he must be doing a great service to humanity by exposing the “claims made by Sultan Shahin on behalf of moderate Islam.”

It would be easy for us to denounce such a person as an inveterate enemy of Islam and leave it at that. This is what most of our columnists in Urdu Press would do. But there are several disturbing facts that emerge. One, this person was at least neutral, if not friendly towards Islam until 26/11/2008 Mumbai killings, that is only three years ago. Two, he has reached the conclusions he has because we have left Petrodollar Islamists to dominate the internet discourse on Islam. Three, he has not become an enemy of Islam, only an enemy of moderate Islam. He doesn’t spend time denouncing extremist Islam. Why, apparently because he thinks extremist Islam will demolish Islam by itself. He doesn’t need to expend any energy denouncing extremist Islam. Only stumbling block in the destruction of Islam in his view is moderate Islam, as represented in New Age Islam. That’s why he has to spend so much time and energy fighting New Age Islam. Time we looked within. Why are we creating more enemies of Islam? Why are we allowing extremist Petrodollar Islam to dominate our discourse? Our Prophet (pbuh) had followed the policy of turning determined foes into dedicated friends and followers of Islam. Why are we doing the reverse?

Please read the following essay carefully. You will find this person has not invented arguments, mostly. He is merely using information that has come to him from Islamic, early Arab sources, so-called history books and Hadith books written by Arabs, clearly as part of their effort at Prophet’s character assassination. Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) was presented in these books of hadith and history as a sexual pervert and cruel tyrant, so as to justify the tyranny and sexual deviations of the dynasty that had taken over the Islamic state after killing all the family members of the Prophet merely 48 years after his demise. What kind of Muslims theses Arabs would be who accepted the killers of the Prophet’s family and even their children and grand children as their rulers and allowed them to engage in various perversions.

One of the comments on this blog reads, in part: “One simple reading of biography of Prophet Mohammad, written by pious Muslims like Ibn Ishaq, Tabari, Ibn Sa'ad, will tell that moderate or liberal Islam is simply an oxymoron.”

This is a general refrain on the internet. Not only that the Arabs do not denounce the writing of Ibn Ishaq, Tabari and Ibn Sa'ad, etc., indeed they use them as justification for their own perversions. Even today Saudi courts, of course, “puritan Islamic” courts, give judgements, Islamic judgements, of course, - everything they do is pristine Islamic - allowing, even ordering sexual perversions, like paedophilia, and justify it by presenting the Prophet himself as a paedophile. They cannot find justification for their deviations in the Holy Quran, so they justify it by what they call the conduct of the Prophet and his sayings. Wahhabi Islam is the main ideological support base of Saudi dictatorship and calls itself Islam.

Muslim Press never stops gloating over how many non-Muslims are converting to Islam. But we don’t realise how many Muslims are leaving the fold of Islam openly to join the ex-Muslim brigade. We are not even aware that many Muslims themselves, until recently moderate, liberal, mainstream, have now come to feel, like this non-Muslim blogger, that Islam is an extremist religion inimical to humanity, a curse for mankind. Hence, they have no option but to leave. Some stay within the fold, ostensibly, due to family and other pressures, while denouncing Islam in their heart or in the company of close friends. – Sultan Shahin, editor, New Age Islam

These days, the issue of awarding the Bharat Ratna on Republic Day is in the news. When I appealed for the Bharat Ratna to Mirza Ghalib and Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya, some people objected, saying that such awards should not be given to people who are no more. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong in giving awards posthumously, provided they are given to the right persons. The Bharat Ratna has been conferred posthumously in the past. Two examples are Sardar Patel and Dr. Ambedkar. Mirza Ghalib is a modern figure, not a legendary one like Lord Rama, or an ancient one like Gautam Buddha. Sarat Chandra in his stories launched a full-blooded attack on the caste system, against women's oppression, and superstitions (see Shrikant, Shesh Prashna, Charitraheen, Devdas, Brahman ki beti, Gramin Samaj, etc.), evils that plague India even today. -- Markandey Katju 

TIMES VIEW: Permit diversity in the system; The government clarified sometime ago that madrasas were RTE-exempt. But the matter goes beyond institutions run by religious groups. It`s not practical to expect educational establishments of all shapes and sizes - including private unaided and minority schools - to meet stringent conditions on services irrespective of administrative capacity or financial resources. – The Times of India

COUNTERVIEW: Include madrasas to empower Muslims; Notwithstanding Rahul Gandhi's reported assurances to the AIMPLB to keep madrasas outside the purview of the RTE Act, there is an urgent need to formalise Madrasa education. Almost 90% of underprivileged Muslim children attend madrasas. However, devoid of a modern curriculum, madrasas are unable to equip these students for the contemporary job market. This in turn limits their economic opportunities. By bringing madrasas under the provisions of the RTE Act, the Islamic seminaries will be forced to submit to universal standards and modernise. -- Prabhat Banerjee

It has been 53 years since she was subjected to the agony. But as Zenab Bano, a retired political science professor in Udaipur, recounts the horror of that day, the wound is laid bare all over again—still raw, still unhealed. Barely seven years old then, she was told to go with her friend and her grandmother to a function for children at the end of which she would get a gift. “Before I realised what was happening, there was this woman pulling down my undergarment,” she says. “I had no idea what she was doing. It hurt a lot and I cried.” What Bano describes is the female circumcision ritual called khatna that most Bohra Muslim girls in India had to go through then. And which is still a rite of passage for many even today. “One may perhaps cite health benefits to male circumcision. But for women, there’s nothing but pain,” says Tasleem.-- Debarshi Dasgupta

Animal Sacrifice or Blood Orgy?
Syed Rizvi, Animal Rights activist
Animal Sacrifice or Blood Orgy?
Syed Rizvi, Animal Rights activist

Once again, Muslims around the world have “sacrificed” millions of animals in a three day period during the month of Eid-ul-Adha to please God.

Sacrifice inherently means that you part with something that is very close to your heart and experience a certain degree of pain during the process.

Abraham proceeded to sacrifice his son who was very close to his heart and with whom had great attachment.

This act of Abraham can be seen as a spirit of true sacrifice.

Today, if I say that I sacrificed an old sofa for a greater cause, I will be laughed at, since the sofa doesn’t mean much to me.  However, this hypothetical act of mine is not much different from someone slitting the throat of a goat to please God and call it a sacrifice, since the person has had no attachment to the goat except a few bucks that he would soon forget. -- Syed Rizvi

Given the curriculum taught in madrasas, most graduates are ill-equipped for gainful employment in a knowledge-based economy. Such graduates, frustrated by their limited or non-existent employment prospects, have often gravitated towards militancy and extremism. Madrasas in Pakistan flourished under late General Ziaul Haq who used Islamisation of the state and the society to prolong his rule. Whereas the population increased by 29 per cent during 1972 and 1981, the number of graduates from religious schools in Pakistan increased by 195 per cent during the same period. This resulted in an oversupply of graduates from religious schools who had limited employment prospects. -- Murtaza Haider

 
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  • dear mr. samnakay, though this response is not directed to your last post, i forgot to include...
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