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Interfaith Dialogue

In a note sent to New Age Islam, Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader B. P. Singhal has tried to define the highly controversial word “Fundamentalism”. His definition has 10 points and at the end of every point, he reaches the conclusion that a Hindu can never become a fundamentalist. The obvious implication is that some religions promote fundamentalism but Hinduism doesn’t. Clearly, there will be many, among them Hindus too, not to speak of followers of other faiths, who will dispute these conclusions and the issues that seem to define fundamentalism for Mr. Singhal. Indeed, there are many Hindus, among others, who consider his VHP itself a fundamentalist organisation and for them this write-up would just appear to be a rather shaky attempt at self-exoneration.

Nevertheless, Mr. Singhal’s thesis deserves debate and discussion, particularly as this term has now come to simply signify extremism of any kind, used as a pejorative mostly, though it started originally in a very specific sense to describe certain Christian fundamentalists within the Protestant community of the United States in the early part of the 20th century who interpreted the Bible as the “inerrant, factual, and literal word of God”, but again, even then to describe different “levels or versions of their fundamentalist belief”. It would certainly help to clear the air somewhat. -- Editor

More specifically, the Indian government's dossier concludes that the Mumbai attack was coordinated by Lashkar-e-Taiba, or the Army of the Pure-a Pakistan-based, Saudi-influenced Islamist terrorist and guerrilla force that fights mainly in Kashmir.

A decade ago, Lashkar's emir, Hafiz Saeed, announced his intention to destroy India: "We will not rest until the whole [of] India is dissolved into Pakistan."

 After the Mumbai attack, Saeed delivered a public sermon in Lahore in which he spoke approvingly of a new "awakening" among Indian Muslims, and described his co-religionists as "second to none in taking revenge." A satellite-telephone conversation between one of the Mumbai terrorists and a supervisor in Pakistan, intercepted independently by the United States, also points to Lashkar's involvement in the raid. After many weeks of prevarication, Pakistani officials conceded that the Mumbai attackers appear to have come from their country. -- Steve Coll, The New Yorker

Muslims and other minorities have always considered India as Darul Aman and all of them have strong sense of loyalty to this great country which is their only homeland. They would never dither from this position. And this author strongly believes that all human beings, whatever their religious beliefs or cultural values, should coexist in peace and harmony. Our politics should never be based on religion, caste or language. It should be based only on our common problems. -- Asghar Ali Engineer

Sultan Shahin responds to Dr Mookhi Amir Ali's comments on the retrieval of Babri land and the clamour “Masjid Wahin banayenge”
Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam
Sultan Shahin responds to Dr Mookhi Amir Ali's comments on the retrieval of Babri land and the clamour “Masjid Wahin banayenge”
Sultan Shahin responds to Dr Mookhi Amir Ali

“Tilting at windmills is rather futile and leads nowhere. As a Muslim I try to see what I or my community can do to ameliorate the situation we are in. Does this mean I am advocating we take no help from the system, from our fellow-citizens, the authorities, the Supreme Court? No, I am not saying that at all. What I am saying is: do not put any more strain on the system that is best for you, don’t weaken it further by demanding that it do the impossible in the present circumstances, and see if there is something you can yourself do to help yourself.  I am only saying do what Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) did in similar, though less trying circumstances.  Go to: http://www.newageislam.com/ijtihad,-rethinking-islam/taqlidi-versus-ijtihadi-approaches--the-prophet-based-his-decisions-on-what-is-possible-and-what-is-not-/d/890  and read the heart-warming story of the Prophet’s statesmanship”, says Sultan Shahin.

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 “By this my humble yardstick, Mr. Sultan Shahin, you seem to be doing excellently. I like your prose. I like your ideas, mostly. The people like you are often accused of speaking the language of the critics of Muslims. Your article “Muslim Penchant for spinning state-sponsored conspiracies: Will it turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy?” was an eye-opener. I particularly liked your response to one or two rejoinders. However I cannot agree with you very much on the subject of Babri Masjid. There can be no doubt that the resolution of the Babri dispute is in the best interest of the Muslim community. However from a Muslim’s point of view the problem is not as trivial as you make it out to be. They demolished a mosque in the full glare of the television camera. There is no Muslim who won’t be seething with anger at the memory of that sight on the television. You have said that the mosque being demolished was a functioning temple! Pardon me but you have rubbed it in. You have spoken the language of the Hindu Right who have called the Masjid a “dhancha” where for over 40 years no namaz was offered. I am sure, Sultan Shahin Sahab, you know why it had become the functioning temple since 1949 and why no namaz was offered for over 40 years”, wrote Dr Mookhi Amir Ali.

Sultan Shahin responds to Ghulam Muhammed’s nightmare vision
Sultan Shahin Founding Editor, New Age Islam
Sultan Shahin responds to Ghulam Muhammed’s nightmare vision
Sultan Shahin responds to Ghulam Muhammed

"Merely condemning the miscreants who demolished the ex-mosque and abusing them and vowing “Masjid wahin banayenge” will not serve any purpose. It doesn’t seem to me to be a good idea to get pathologically fixated on the demolition of an ex-mosque, which was actually a functioning temple at the time of demolition, and forgetting that we have tens of thousands of functioning mosques and madrasas all over the country and are building new ones all the time. The miscreants who demolished the ex-mosque claimed to be votaries of Hindutva but were not only anti-social, and anti-national but actually anti-Hindu: they gave Hinduism a bad name, sullied its image of peaceful demeanour and non-violence and tolerance built over several millennia and indeed made homeless Hazrat Ramchandra who, I understand, is now living in a tent, bereft of a roof over his head," says Sultan Shahin, editor, NewAgeIslam.com

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"The Mosque will never go. Take this from just one humble member of the 15 Crore of Indian Muslims. Babri Masjid has become the symbol of their freedom in India. Until they rebuild Babri Masjid at its own place, Muslims will not rest…. There can be no barter of our right to reclaim what is due to us. Shahin Saheb has every right to pursue his one-sided effort to denigrate and demonise Muslims and exhort them to accept what is on the table. But Sultan Shahin does not represent the consensus of the overwhelming majority of Indian Muslims", says Ghulam Muhammed

If we could use the power of music, I thought, to connect young Israeli and Palestinian musicians in the context of the greater community, we could succeed in building trust among the masses. A year ago, under a fellowship from MTV and the U.S. State Department's Fulbright Award, I created a project called Heartbeat: Jerusalem, says Aaron Shneyer, a guitarist, bassist, singer-songwriter.

 
Masjid wahin Banayenge’ is stupid
Jamsheed Basha Abumohammed

This is in response to Sultan Shahin responds to Ghulam Muhammed’s nightmare vision

To stand firm on false prestige would do no good to the Muslim community. To dream of rebuilding the Babri mosque in the same place is asking for the moon in the present circumstances. Muslims could never get back the disputed site as the court that could not decide the case in so many years, would not dare to give its verdict in the near future. All odds are against them. The question is what if one mosque is lost? Will that be the end of Islam in India? That apparently is not the case as Muslims have lived without the mosque since 1992. What benefit Muslims would draw by their insistence on rebuilding the mosque in the same place?

 
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