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Books and Documents

Interfaith Dialogue

Many things can be learnt from Afghans and they could be taught in their own logic. To them Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273) is Jalaluddin Balkhi (Afghan) as he was born in Balkh (some say in Wakhsh) in the Khwarezmian Empire, though he composed his poetry in Persian in today’s Kunya of Turkey (ancient Rome) and founded one of the Sufi Orders of the whirling Dervishes. One can go on and give a long list of luminaries of medieval history whom Afghans consider as Afghans and who either worked in the territory of present Afghanistan or were born there in Afghanistan like Rumi....

 

This is a threat to India's civilisation order which once thrived under liberty. The challenge for writers and yogis is to evolve a term other than "Hindu" to describe India's people and their practices and beliefs that are compatible with the indigenous ways of living. Until that happens, Abrahamic Hindutva is a living threat to India's civilisational order as known to our ancestors in the Vedic times.....

A contemporary of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda, Lalan mixed the teachings Bengal’s Vaishnav hero Sri Chaitanya and Lord Krishna with the Islamic quest for Allah. Even after more than a century of Lalan’s demise, his songs continue to resonate on both sides of Bengal....

 

Aftab reached out to old Ravian Khushwant Singh in Delhi, actor Dev Anand when he visited Lahore with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and recalled Balraj Sahni who came from Rawalpindi in 1930 to Lahore to study for BA but ended up editing the college magazine Ravi, apart from doing theatre with the great principal, Guru Dutt Sondhi, and actor-teacher Patras Bokhari. Aftab crossed over into Indian Punjab to invite old Ravians to an increasingly inward-looking and conservative Lahore...

 
Turkey’s Oldest Indigenous Culture Fears Extinction
Ayla Jean Yackley
Turkey’s Oldest Indigenous Culture Fears Extinction
Ayla Jean Yackley

Syriacs, sometimes called Assyrians, are heirs to a civilization in historical Mesopotamia that dates back as far as 3500 B.C., and many today still speak a dialect of Aramaic, the language of Christ. Most are Orthodox, but Syriacs belong to different Christian denominations. Their homeland of Tur Abdin, which translates as the Mountain of the Servants of God, is situated on a high plateau between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and is studded with more than 80 monasteries...

 
A Train Ride to India in Better Times
Asif Noorani
A Train Ride to India in Better Times
Asif Noorani

“Oh, so you have come from Pakistan!” one of the boys said with a tinge of aggression in his tone. “You must have celebrated Pandit Ji’s death,” he presumed. The Indian prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had died a month or two earlier. “Well, we don’t celebrate anyone’s death, not even our enemy’s. As for Pandit Ji, we admire him for many of his qualities. I have read all his books avidly,” I replied coolly, though I was nervous inside....

 
Inter-Religious Understanding
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, New Age Islam
Inter-Religious Understanding
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for New Age Islam

I am a religious person. I am a practicing Muslim. But I can say that I do not have any hate for anyone, irrespective of religion. Some Muslims hate Jews and call them ‘enemies of Islam’. I do not agree with this at all. I think it is totally wrong. I say, “Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs—all of us are creatures of the same God. So, how can we hate anyone?”....

In the Qur’ān, Muslims are reminded that “[t]here shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion [of Islam]” (2:256). Classical commentators on the Qur’ān, such as the famous Ismā‘īl ibn Kathīr (d. 1373), and more recent ones such as Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966) and Mawdūdī (d. 1979) are in agreement that this passage forbids any form of coercing non-Muslims into embracing Islam. [1] However, many (if not most) of the people who express curiosity about whether Islam spread “by the sword” are interested in whether this is a historical reality....

Once again defying popular perceptions, it was during the tenure of Maharaja Ranjit Singh that shrine began to grow. A library was built here, the first of its kind, with a vast collection of handwritten copies of the Quran. The religious texts were donated by Maharani Jind Kaur, Ranjit Siingh’s youngest wife who, after his death, briefly served as her young son Maharaja Duleep Singh’s Regent....

Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters, We wish to assure you of our prayerful solidarity during this time of fasting in the month of Ramadan and the celebration of ‘Id al–Fitr that concludes it, and we extend to you our heartfelt best wishes for serenity, joy and abundant spiritual gifts....

 

Should good sense not prevail to let the past rest in peace and insist on re-imagining history as they would have liked it to have been, an appeal is made to the Honourable High Courts and the Supreme Court to set down guidelines so that abundant caution is exercised and extensive consultations undertaken prior to making changes of the type mentioned above.....

 

This is what Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif attempted, and the endeavour was carried forward by Dr Manmohan Singh and Pervez Musharraf. A broad framework for resolving the Kashmir issue is already in place, and it is known as the four-point Musharraf-Manmohan formula. Despite some differences between the two sides, this formula can still serve as the basis for a fresh bilateral dialogue....

The Interfaith Guru
Yoginder S. Sikand, New Age Islam
The Interfaith Guru
Yoginder S. Sikand, New Age Islam

In itself this feature of this scripture sends out some incredibly powerful messages: that Truth is universal and One, and that although Truth may be expressed in different ways by people from different social backgrounds, it transcends humanly-constructed divisions of language, name and form, and caste, community and creed; that spiritual wisdom should be honoured wherever it may be found; that in God’s eyes there is no special caste or religious community; that true devotees of God can be found in any and every caste, ethnic, religious and linguistic community; that caste and creed are no barrier in realizing God;...

We cannot find any religion or school of thought that does not deem this an important aspect in its teachings. Some have detailed accounts and teachings – such as Islam – whilst others are not so detailed, although none have been silent on this matter. Most of these religions have a very positive view of the future. Their overall picture of the end of humanity is a bright one. What seems to be the general pattern in the revealed religions is that they all describe a period of difficulties and calamities before the final outcome.....

People Are Trapped In History, and History Is Trapped In Them
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam
People Are Trapped In History, and History Is Trapped In Them
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

Non-Muslims, ignorant and misunderstanding Islam, fear it. They believe it threatens their most basic values. Similarly, Muslims have their own misconceptions. They, reacting to the hate and fear of non-Muslims, create a kind of defensive posture within their societies and a combative environment built on militant rhetoric. In this heat and misunderstanding, the voices of sanity are drowned….

Mishkal Mosque: An Ode to Pluralism
Manu S. Pillai
Mishkal Mosque: An Ode to Pluralism
Manu S. Pillai

Today, amid talk about consecrating a Hindu temple upon the ruins of a violently destroyed mosque, perhaps it would be worth reflecting on Mishkal, where a Hindu king reconstructed a Muslim place of worship, and avenged those who were not followers of his faith but were still his people. The Portuguese brought blood and hate into their world, but together this Hindu king and his Muslim subjects chose a greater ideal, preserving in Mishkal both a house of god as well as a timeless principle.....

Today, Joplin’s mosque is housed in a plain building surrounded by a black gate and a fluttering American flag. One afternoon last month, kids were running around there, getting ready for an Arabic lesson. On the wall, posters explained the similarities between Islam, Christianity and Judaism....

 

Not only did Muhammad speak cordially with members of the Najran delegation, but he opened the doors of his mosque so these Christians could pray in peace. After this friendly visit, the Prophet sent representatives to deliver a letter to Bishop Harith. The letter reminded the Christian Najrans that Muslims were a benevolent people who encouraged good will, commanded charity, and deterred evil at all costs. Muhammad also assured them that he was not interested in converting anyone to Islam and that Muslims would help to protect Christians against any tyrants or potential conquerors....

 

Concerned Westerners must understand that the problem calls for not a battle against Islam but a struggle for religious freedom. As a recent academic initiative, Under the Caesar’s Sword: The Christian Response to Persecution, put it well, religious persecution is a global problem, and Muslims and Christians sometimes find themselves as co-victims — at the hands of Chinese Communists, for example, or Hindu supremacists. Religious freedom is a fundamental right deserved by all — and therefore it must be defended for all….

It is therefore noteworthy that the followers of Quran are instructed not only to defend their own houses of worship but also to put their lives on line to defend others against persecution. It is a matter of shame, disappointment and regret that today the various protectors, the martyrs and so called soldiers of Islam not only persecute and drive their brethren out of home and hearth but destroy their own as well as other religious houses of worship on the holydays where the name of the Universal Creator Lord is invoked, and deprive them of all semblance of life, let alone the dignity of life that their Book ordains for all! The recent spate of attacks on mosques, synagogues and churches – the houses of worship the world over by these savages with Arabic sounding titles of their organisations is a matter of utter disgust, particularly when for their political strategies they invoke the name of Islam, such as ISIS.....

Interesting class divisions have emerged in so far as the expression of religiosity in the community is concerned. The neo-rich perform Haj multiple times and overspend on sacrificing animals, festivals and marriages — all this, while the poor and lower classes struggle to survive and face the brunt of Hindutva. The profligacies of the neo-rich have immense social and economic opportunity costs for the Muslim community, especially when it is in an adverse relationship with prevailing political powers, and is being asked to respond to its own problems.....

When a Priest Recognized the Prophethood of Muhammad
Dr. Craig Considine
When a Priest Recognized the Prophethood of Muhammad
Dr. Craig Considine

“… The Prophet returned to Khadija while his heart was beating rapidly. She took him to Waraqa ibn Nafal who was a Christian convert and used to read the Gospel in Arabic. Waraqa asked (the Prophet), ‘What do you see?’ When he told him, Waraqa said, ‘This is the same angel whom Allah sent to the Prophet Moses. Should I live till you receive the Divine Message, I will support you strongly.”....

And many of the thinkers mentioned above argued that philosophy offered the best resource for the interpretation of sacred texts, whether the Torah, the Christian Bible or the Quran. So it is no coincidence that in the Muslim al-Kindi, the Christian ibn ‘Adi, and the Jew Maimonides, the One God of Abrahamic tradition bear a striking resemblance to the god of Aristotle’s Metaphysics....

 
To Coexist — Study Other Religions
Shagufta Gul
To Coexist — Study Other Religions
Shagufta Gul

Let’s have a look at the concept of coexistence in different religions. In Hinduism, speech and behaviour need to be honest and not harsh. If peace is desired, peace of others needs to be taken care of. Christianity talks about human interdependence and mutual concern for one another. Buddhism believes in sharing sufferings and happiness and working alongside other individuals in society. Islam clearly states that there shall be no compulsion in religion....

 
Muslims and Jews Break Bread, and Build Bonds
Sharon Otterman
Muslims and Jews Break Bread, and Build Bonds
Sharon Otterman

“When you have a natural affiliation with people, you can advocate for them effortlessly,” she said. “It’s like you don’t think about advocating for a relative. And I really liked the idea that friendship and common ground naturally emerges from sharing food together.”....

 


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