Books and Documents

The War Within Islam

Eid ‘gift’ for the Baloch?
Daily Times Editorial

Six bullet-riddled bodies of ‘missing persons’ were found in different parts of Balochistan during the three days of Eid-ul-Azha. Lala Hameed Baloch, a journalist and president of the Baloch National Movement (BNM), and Samiullah Mengal, a student and Balochistan Students Organisation-Azad (BSO-Azad) activist, were among those whose bodies were found. This was the eid gift that was given to the families of the six Baloch men who were picked up by unidentified personnel and later killed brutally. -- Daily Times Editorial


Since 2005, Wael Abbas has been one of Egypt's most active bloggers. His name and his blog are known throughout the Arab world. It was he who published on his website photos of sexual assaults on women in Cairo and videos showing torture in Egyptian police stations, which led to a scandal and made him famous.

Abbas reports regularly on abuses in his country. He is one of the most vocal activists in Egypt, denouncing, accusing and demanding change, and in doing so he has made himself a thorn in the side of the government. -- Amira al-Ahl

Balochistan: endless despair
Mohammad Akhtar Mengal

Initially, the East Pakistani population was the prime victim of this policy of systematic second-class citizenry; they were discriminated against because of their ethnicity, origin, and political aspirations. They were denied legal rights, civil rights, political rights and overall economic opportunities in a country that came into being through the extraordinary contribution of the Bengali political and intellectual elite.

Rebuffing West Pakistan’s neo-colonial policies, the Bengalis took a non-violent path to change their destiny. They voted in favour of the Awami League and sent a clear signal to the power base in Lahore, GHQ and Islamabad that the days of institutionalised slavery are over. The dominant civil-military establishment’s hawkish response to Bengal’s political verdict was ruthless, which resulted in millions of deaths, destruction and separation of East Pakistan. -- Mohammad Akhtar Mengal


The small island nation of Bahrain – the word "Bahrain" means "two seas" – not only lies geographically in the middle of this contentious body of water, it is also in the middle culturally, religiously, and politically too, influenced both by Shi'ite Iran and the mainly Sunni Arab Gulf states. The differences are further compounded by the fact that although Shi'ites make up almost 70 per cent of the population in Bahrain, political power centres on the country's Sunni ruling dynasty.

Elections in the Arab world are rare; free elections in the Arab world are even more rare, and even though the Bahraini lower house wields little legislative power, it was nevertheless something special that a parliament was elected in the constitutional monarchy last Saturday for the third time following elections in 2002 and 2006. -- Hanna Labonté


P K Mohammed Abul Hassan, popularly known as Chekannur Maulavi, was last seen on July 29, 1993, when he left home in Kerala's Malappuram district to deliver a religious sermon….

Accepting the prosecution's argument that religious rivalries motivated the accused to commit the crime, the judge said "some fundamental [sic] Muslim individuals could not tolerate the so-called progressive ideas of Chekannur Maulavi"….

One instance that is regularly advanced to prove that Chekannur Maulavi is a progressive Muslim is his support of the Supreme Court judgment in the Shah Bano case.

He was one among the few Muslim intellectuals in the country who said that Shah Bano's former husband should pay her alimony. Significantly, Chekannur Maulavi's position was not grounded in his personal view of the issue, nor was he motivated by a secular feminism. -- M Sathyavathi


For last fourteen hundred years we have heard a slogan one Allah, one Prophet and one Qur’an and so all Muslims should unite and constitute one ummah. Also, interestingly enough our ulama narrate a hadith from Prophet (PBUH) that “my ummah will be divided into 72 sects and only one of them will be naji i.e. will achieve liberation and others will be doomed”. Thus we ourselves contradict ourselves. On one hand, we desire unity and then go on dividing the ummah in 72 sects conflicting with each other..... We may not be able to overcome our differences resulting in complete unity of ummah but certainly we can work out strategies to reacts un-emotionally and more intellectually so as to project a peaceful and dignified image of Islam. It will greatly enhance respect for Islam and Muslims in the world. -- Asghar Ali Engineer

ISI's latest conspiracy Theory: Headley was working for R&AW
ISI mouthpiece The Daily Mail, Islamabad

India staged 26/11 just as US had staged 9/11 before

The Daily Mail opines that Mr. Headley was working on behalf of US authorities as well as Indian spy agency RAW and the entire episode of the Mumbai attacks was a drama staged to bring heat upon Pakistan and its premier security agency, ISI. If the FBI knew well in advance regarding Mr. Headley’s intentions and had warned India of the impending attacks, surely the attack could have been averted or security level raised so that the alleged protagonists of the Mumbai attacks not been able to sail to Mumbai in fishing boats and enter the harbor in rubber dinghies, armed to the teeth with explosives and automatic weapons, loiter in the streets of Mumbai, assail the top two hotels, take hostages and blast their way in uncharted sensitive areas with impunity. The very fact that Indian media had reporters reporting from the scenes that had not even been attacked yet, was reminiscent of the BBC reporter reporting the collapse of World Trade Center 23 minutes before it actually collapsed or the 7/7 bombing reporter that was caught on tape asking “Has it happened yet?” Now that Mr. Headley is conveniently singing like a canary, implicating Pakistan, ISI and scores of others, the whole case is highly suspicious and smacks of conspiracy against Pakistan. -- ISI mouthpiece The Daily Mail, Islamabad

The ideology that reigns in Saudi Arabia comes into plain view on the website of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars, where boys and girls sharing a swimming pool causes "mischief and evil" and bringing flowers to a hospital patient is to be discouraged because it's a foreign custom that "imitates Allah's adversaries."

And those fatwas, or religious rulings, come from the government-appointed body of clerics who are the guardians of the kingdom's ultraconservative Wahhabi school of Islam. But there's also a whole other world of independent clerics issuing their own interpretations, often contradictory, through the Web, TV stations and text messages. -- MAGGIE MICHAEL

The Taliban have a well-publicised list of people they want to take out. This list includes government officials, columnists, academics, religious scholars and members of the development sector. The means and tools of each on the list might be different, but all have one thing in common: they are adamant that the Taliban will not gain further ground. Gradually, the Taliban are not only gaining ground, they are ticking each one of the lists as they add to the notches in their suicide belts.

These are drastic times as each one of the moderate, educated elements, especially of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, are being killed. Drastic times call for drastic measures. One drastic measure should be to stop passing the buck and addressing the core problem, not just its appendices. The Taliban and al Qaeda are the appendices. The core issue is the ideology that unites the whole conservative Right, which includes militant and non-militant organisations, networks and parties. The sharing of Wahhabist values is what unites al Qaeda, the Taliban, Jamat-ud-Dawa, Lashkar-i-Tayyaba, Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz and Tehreek-i-Insaaf. This is the reason why in DG Khan Jamaat-ud-Dawa is working together with the Jamaat-i-Islami in providing relief. ...

The Wahhabis are the followers of Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab. Wahhab argued that Muslims who engage in acts of shirk must be killed. He interpreted a proclaimed precedent set by the first ‘Rightly Guided’ Caliph Abu Bakr. Wahab claimed that Abu Bakr fought and killed many so-called hypocrites, despite the fact that they practised the five pillars of Islam. Arguing that his followers were justified in killing their Muslim opponents, he contended that the Ottoman Turks, their allies and the ‘hypocritical Muslims’ were infidels, deserving of the worst death. He would cite a precedent in which Abu Bakr allegedly burnt the so-called hypocrites to death. Wahhab used this alleged precedent to argue that Wahhabis were justified in torturing and killing their opponents. This is the same precedent that the militant groups cite to justify killings of Muslims. However, what is little known is that, according to Islamic scholars, this precedent is not supported by history. Many classic Muslims scholars such as Khaled Abou El Fadl in Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law declared that the report of Abu Bakr using fire against Muslim opponents was invented and reported by highly suspect individuals. ... The core issue is to highlight the loopholes in an ideology that is being propagated incorrectly at such devastating cost that we are losing people like Dr Muhammad Farooq. -- Gulmina Bilal Ahmad

While the world is engaged in dealing with terrorism in various ways, suitable to each country and region as per its circumstances and interests, Saudi Arabia has been quietly and successfully tackling the menace of extremism and terrorism in its own way, defending at the same time against all those who never miss an opportunity to raise finger against Saudis for terror related events. The success of Saudi strategy has proved their detractors wrong and is beginning to win appreciation and recognition worldwide and even among the opponents.

Historically, the Saudi fight against terror and extremism began much before 9/11 and goes back to 1979, when a group of extremists occupied the Holy Mosque in Makka. Then in 1995 and 1996, two terror attacks took place in Riyadh and Al-Khobar. Saudi Arabia has until now faced 30 terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of 90 civilians and inured 439 of them... --Khalid Qasmi


If a human being kills other human beings using his own body as a bomb and blowing himself to pieces in this act, it is obvious that this person is either very strongly indoctrinated and dedicated to his murderous task or his body and mind are possessed by Satan. And if a fifteen or sixteen year old kid does this, who has had no chance to experience the good and the bad that the life offers, who has had no part himself in the politics that Muslims suffer in this world, he must have been manipulated, brainwashed and his mind altered by the most sinister monster-makers of the world who wear turbans  and kufis and since this mutual annihilation is occurring between the Muslim sects, all of whom are Mowahidoon and utter the kalimah of Shahadah, we can easily surmise that this is Satan’s work, whose agents are disguised in abayas, turbans and kufis.

It follows therefore, that these agents of evil, who want to destroy the integrity of the Islamic Ummah  are paid and nurtured by the enemies of Islam; and if this happens in countries, whose infrastructure has been utterly destroyed by foreign armies, creating political, social and administrative anarchy, we know that there is no hope for those societies to survive unless the society breaks out of the shackles of false religiosity and destroys by all possible means the agents of this Armageddon. Take Pakistan for instance, the country is in the midst of the most thorough flooding in its history, comparable to the Noah’s deluge. One-third of its territory is under water and yet suicide bombers have killed scores of people at religious places, shrines and processions. Can you call these killers humans and the instigators of such acts, even if they are preachers, humans? Most important of all: can, we the American Muslims have any association with this religious and moral chaos?  The answer is definitively NO. These things cannot be a part of our identity. It is time for us to redefine ourselves....

I believe that a fight at this time will boost the chances of success for the Tea Party and the likes of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin and will be very debilitating for Muslims. The polarization, which occurs, will unsettle us for years to come. It will therefore be wise not to make the Ground Zero masjid an issue. -- Waheeduddin Ahmed in his Eid khutba at Islamic Da’wa Center, Milwaukee

The principle that Islamic injunctions can be amended to suit changes dictated by time and social development has been upheld by a long list of Islamic scholars, from Ibnul-Qaiyyam Jauzia and Ibn Khaldun to Allama Iqbal and that makes a strong case for Islam’s compatibility with secularism. (Falsafa Shariat-i-Islam, Majlis Taraqqi-i-Adab). In Pakistan the advocates of secularism rely mostly on the Quaid-i-Azam’s dictum that religion has nothing to do with the business of the state. Actually, the subcontinental Muslims’ contribution to secularism has a much longer history, beginning (if not earlier) with Allauddin Khilji’s refusal to follow Qazi Mughis’s plea to convert or kill the more numerous non-Muslims. Babar advised Humayun to treat people’s religious affiliations as changing seasons and Aurangzeb scolded his teacher for making him waste his time on Arabic grammar while he should have been taught governance in a world that was larger than Shah Jahan’s kingdom. All these ideas bore the stamp of secularism.--I. A. Rehman

During this blessed month of Ramadan no Muslim can even imagine getting involved in fighting or any type of terror. In such a sacred month every Muslim is supposed to keep himself engaged in Saum-o-Salaat and recitation of the Holy Quran. And yet in a country that is proud of being called an Islamic republic, there is a group which is involved in killings and that too of its own Muslim brethren. More than that, this group calls itself Muslim, and as if that were not enough of an outrage, a Mujahid of Islam. You would have understood which group I am referring to. This so called Muslim group is known as the "Pakistani Talibaan". This is the very group which killed hundreds of Shia Muslims first in Lahore and then at Gauri through suicide bombing. The question is what kind of an Islam this is that these Pakistani Taliban wish to establish. What was the crime of those killed? They were celebrating the Martyrdom Day of the fourth Muslim Caliph Hazrat Ali (KW). -- Zafar Agha

Backward Caste Muslims: ‘We Merely Want To Raise The Curtain'
Mohd. Noor Hasan Azad & Khalid Anis Ansari

The movement known as pasmanda tehreek (movement) is not coming with (any new divisions like those along) caste. In fact, the division was created and is maintained by the elite Muslim castes as it is in their interest. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, an upper caste, who also got entitled as Khan Bahadur by British Government, can be seen backing the inequality of the caste system. Many scholars ( vidwaan ) and priests ( mulla ) remain instrumental in this hierarchical construction. We are highlighting the issue, invoking the same category of caste, which was earlier maintained to sustain inequality, to demand justice ( haq ). -- Mohd. Noor Hasan Azad & Khalid Anis Ansari

Despite unqualified support from and immense help from the tribal elders, Islamabad had demonstrated little concern for the safety, and for the development of the tribal regions. The populations of FATA and KP continue to suffer under sweeping and indiscriminate military operations, largely executed through haphazard bombing and artillery attacks on populated areas, which has forced vast numbers to become refugees in their own country, languishing in different Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), by June 15, 2010, there were more than 3.3 million conflict IDPs in Pakistan, since the start of the fight between Pakistan’s Armed Forces and militant groups in 2008. -- Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

Cordoba Initiative: Mischief in Manhattan
Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah

We Muslims know the Ground Zero mosque is meant to be a deliberate provocation. It's an act of "fitna"(mischief).

The Koran commands Muslims to, "Be considerate when you debate with the People of the Book" -- i.e., Jews and Christians. Building an exclusive place of worship for Muslims at the place where Muslims killed thousands of New Yorkers is not being considerate or sensitive, it is undoubtedly an act of "fitna". So what gives Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the "Cordoba Initiative" and his cohorts the misplaced idea that they will increase tolerance for Muslims by brazenly displaying their own intolerance in this case?

Do they not understand that building a mosque at Ground Zero is equivalent to permitting a Serbian Orthodox church near the killing fields of Srebrenica where 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered? There are many questions that we would like to ask. Questions about where the funding is coming from? If this mosque is being funded by Saudi sources, then it is an even bigger slap in the face of Americans, as nine of the jihadis in the Twin Tower calamity were Saudis. -- Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah

What was surprising in the Sirin Middya case was the silence of the university authorities. The Aliah University website states: “It is hoped that along with the people of any race, creed, caste or class, this university will play a crucial and leading role in the advancement of higher education”. The vision statement mentions that the university would like to instill a dynamism so that the students “can successfully cope with the critical needs and challenges of the present... develop love and respect for fellow citizens of the country, and integrate themselves to the nation.” Transferring Sirin Middya to another campus, away from the protesting students, was hardly a reflection of this spirit. It took the West Bengal minority affairs minister’s intervention to let her resume classes. Rayana Kazi is still struggling to exercise her choice and has had to seek protection from the high court against a harrassment which is now over an year long. – By Azra Razzack

These shrines are a memorial to the hybridity of the land, if not the state, of Pakistan. Until Partition, before the exodus of Pakistan’s Hindu and Sikh populations, they were places (as they still are in India) where Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims worshipped together. Behind each one—formed out of more than six centuries of religious reform, which created humanistic, more tolerant hybrids of India’s religions—would be some tale built around a local saint that celebrated the plurality of the land. To adhere to the spirit of these shrines was to know that deeper than any doctrinal difference was a shared humanity; it was almost to feel part of a common religion; the spread of this shared culture through Punjab, Sindh and Kashmir constituted an immense human achievement. And for as long as the plurality remained, the religion remained, seemingly immune to fanaticism, incapable of being reduced to bigotry and prejudice. But once the land of Pakistan, after Partition, was drained of its diversity (and this constituted no less a shock than if London or New York were suddenly cleansed of their non-white populations), the religion lost its deepest motivation, which was to bring harmony to a diverse and plural population. The amazing thing was that even after Partition, when the land of Pakistan was no longer so plural, it was this religion, full of mysticism, poetry and song, that clung on as the dominant faith of the people of Pakistan. ...

As the attacks on shrines like Data Sahib multiply, as the Americans discover that nothing will be achieved by throwing money at Pakistan, as India realizes that Pakistan’s hatred of it is not rational, that the border issue with Kashmir cannot alone be the cause of such passion, as the world begins to see that Pakistan’s problems are not administrative, Pakistanis will have to find a new narrative. The sad truth is that they are still a long way from discovering the true lesson behind the experience of the past 60 years: that it is of language, dress, notions of social organization, of shared literatures and customs, of Sufi shrines and their stories, that nations are made, not religion. That has proved to be too thin a glue and 60 years later, it has left millions of people dispossessed and full of hateful lies: a nation of human bombs. -- Aatish Taseer

However, the adherents of the Deobandi school of thought, to which the Taliban belongs, are opposed to the idea of Muslims visiting Sufi shrines and offering prayers, a practice known as piri-faqiri. The Deobandis deem piri-faqiri to be heretical, a gross violation of Islamic doctrine; ditto mystical dancing. The Deobandis, therefore, consider the Barelvis as kafir whose neck can be put to sword, no question asked. A week before July 1, the TTP had sent a letter to the Data Ganj Baksh administration threatening to attack the shrine, claiming its status was equivalent to that of the Somnath temple in Gujarat, India. The symbolism inherent in the comparison wasn’t lost—the Somnath temple had been repeatedly raided by Sultan Mehmood Ghaznavi, ‘the idol destroyer’, who believed his marauding attacks would sap the fighting spirit of the Hindus. The attack on the Data Darbar was, similarly, aimed at demoralising the Barelvis, besides striking at the root of Lahore’s religious and cultural ethos. ...

Renowned Islamic scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, a member of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), which furnishes legal advice on Islamic issues to the Pakistan government, laments, “Labelling others infidel and kafir has become a preferred task of the mullahs. It’s clear that every sect considers others heretical, kafirs and dwellers of hell. Even verses of the Quran are wrongly used to disprove others’ faith and sects.”

In a way, a minority of Pakistan’s population has taken to declaring the rest as kafir. Look at the figures—95 per cent of the Pakistani population are Muslim, of which 85 per cent are Sunni and 15 per cent Shia. But for the five per cent belonging to the Ahle Hadith (Wahabis), the Sunnis prescribe to the Hanafi school of jurisprudence. They are further subdivided into the Barelvi and Deobandi schools. Most agree on the following composition of Pakistan’s population—60 per cent Barelvis, 15 per cent Deobandis, 15 per cent Shias, 5 per cent Ahle Hadith, and the remaining 5 per cent constituting Ahmadis, Ismailis, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis, etc. This means only 20 per cent of Pakistanis (15 per cent of Deobandis plus 5 per cent of Ahle Hadith) strictly consider the remaining 80 per cent as kafir, even willing to subject them to death and destruction. -- Amir Mir

Mullah Mafia building illegal mosques in Lahore
Editorial in Daily Times, Lahore

Pakistan should take a leaf out of its old wing, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), where its Supreme Court has struck down the bulk of the controversial 5th Amendment by reinstating a ban on Islamic political parties. Bangladesh’s original constitution was secular in nature but following a coup in 1975, the constitution was amended and given a religious tinge. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that she was “not in favour of banning any political party”. This may have more to do with the fact that the Jamaat-e-Islami is a large political party with some clout. Earlier, the Bangladesh High Court had outlawed punishments handed down in fatwas (religious edicts), after a series of cases of Muslim women being beaten and caned. Not only that, the Bangladesh government has also banned books by Maulana Maududi because they “encourage terrorism and militancy”. It is time that Pakistan follows in the footsteps of Bangladesh, also a Muslim country but which is paving a path towards the traditions laid down by its founding fathers. Mr Jinnah had also visualised a secular Pakistan but this was not to be. -- Editorial in Daily Times, Lahore, August 2, 2010

This week saw Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan take over as “PM” of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The area, which Pakistan calls Azad Jammu and Kashmir or AJK, has since its 2006 elections been in a state of political crisis.

Dawn reported on July 26: “Just 30 hours before the vote on a no-confidence motion against PM Raja Farooq Haider, a faction of the ruling Muslim Conference which moved the motion claimed that 18 of 24 cabinet members had resigned... the AJK Assembly speaker, who is supporting the PM, said he hadn’t received any resignation... He called a session of the assembly for a vote. It will be the third time the assembly will vote on a no-confidence motion since its election in 2006... Former PM Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, who had been voted out in January last year, has been nominated again as the Leader of the House. A spokesman for Sardar Attique, who is spearheading the move against the PM (of his own party), claimed to have the support required...” The incumbent “PM” tendered his resignation on July 27. According to Daily Times, he accused the federal government of “conspiring against him.” The ISI is a guiding force behind this move, suggests a report in The News: “Haider, while talking to this correspondent... admitted to having met General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, DG ISI but said people had created an impression he was an anti-state person and he met Pasha to clarify his position. ‘I convinced the general and at the end of the meeting, Pasha said that after listening to your views I have found you a patriotic person,’ the AJK PM said.” -- Ruchika Talwar


It goes without saying that there exists not even a single Barelvi terrorist organisation in Pakistan. And yet, another complication of this is the potent mixture of Pashtun nationalism with Deobandi Islam. Mix Pashtun nationalism with Deobandi Islam and you get Hafiz Gul Bahadur, the most important terrorist leader from North Waziristan. Hafiz Gul Bahadur is the direct descendant of Faqir of Ipi, whose claim to fame was that he raised the banner of violent jihad against the newly formed dominion of Pakistan. Thus, Pakistan has faced a war against militant Islam since the first day it was created. The world discovered the Taliban a decade ago but Pakistan has been forced to reckon with them since its inception. And they were called the Taliban even in the time of Lord Curzon where a religious fanatic, Mullah Pawinda, had challenged British rule. -- Yasser Latif Hamdani

"During my frequent visits to Pakistan in the 1990s, all kinds of theories were expressed whenever there was an attack on members of the Shia or Sunni community," the German journalist Hans Bremer wrote in The News (Feb 26, 2003). "One that always struck me as strange was that a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia was being fought on the streets of Pakistani cities.''. -- Adnan Farooq

The Punjab government has sidestepped the longer term core issue of terrorism by shifting the debate to the threat to democracy from within. This is in line with the PPP view in Islamabad that the judges and generals are a bigger threat to its government than terrorism.

In the next two months or so, we can be reasonably sure that there will be more acts of terrorism as well as more disqualifications from parliament. Meanwhile, the judges of the Supreme Court, who are in a very aggressive mode, may undo elements of the 18th amendment that enable a degree of parliamentary oversight of judicial appointments and also try to unseat President Zardari on one count or another. The stage is therefore set for more confusion, confrontation and instability. -- Najam Sethi


Deplorable and ugly as the violence has been from certain Baloch quarters, the real introspection required is on the part of the Pakistani state — introspection that is hinted at occasionally but never actually delivered on. While the terrible days of violent suppression by the security forces in the Musharraf era may be over, there is a sense that the Pakistan Army continues to view the Baloch problem with uncompromising eyes. Proof of that is the continuing problem of ‘missing persons’. While Baloch leaders claim many thousand people are missing, independent observers suggest a figure between one and two thousand-- A Dawn Editorial

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