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Books and Documents

The War Within Islam

The rural people of Pakistan don’t have the luxury of weighing ideologies and campaign promises of political parties. Who they vote for is determined by a smile, by a disapproving look from the feudal lord. Tens of thousands of votes are cast for the political party the overlord favours — a choice he always makes after weighing the balance of power. The practice of democracy in the countryside is almost invisible to the television anchors and columnists and other influential urban compatriots who pay American prices for a cup of coffee in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad....

 

Significantly, TLP, an Islamist party, erupted against the alleged change in the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat [finality of Prophet-hood] clause, and has now underlined its extremist-terrorist orientation. TLP chief Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who has fielded as many as 152 candidates for the General Elections 2018, declared on July 9, 2018, If they give me the atom bomb I would remove Holland from the face of the earth before they can hold a competition of caricature. I will wipe them off the face of this earth.....

 

This does indeed seem like the only possible course of action left for religious minorities in Pakistan. Perhaps they should leave while they still can, because the Muslim majority in this country will ultimately turn to genocide against them before ultimately killing each other. Ghulam Abbas, the great Urdu short story writer, predicted this much in his classic Hotel Mohenjo-Daro in the 1960s. Soon there will only be ruins left in what was once a young country with great potential....

Nawaz Sharif has accused the deep state of rousing central Punjab’s shrine-connected feudal PML-N loyalists to rebel against him. He alleges that his government was nearly toppled by a foul-mouthed, wheelchair-riding imam of a Masjid heading the Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Khadim Husain Rizvi. Rizvi staged a violent encounter with the police near Islamabad because “the PML-N government had insulted the Holy Prophet”....

 

Pakistanis will not waste a second criticizing Myanmar for their appalling treatment of the Rohingya – and rightly so. The cause of the Palestinians is loudly proclaimed, as are those of Chechens, Bosniaks and Albanians. But on the Uyghurs, all are silent. So what about Muslim solidarity? Muslim solidarity certainly makes for a good and popular slogan for political leaders. And the people are all in favour of solidarity, so long as this requires little sacrifice on their part....

 

The conviction of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by an accountability court last Friday has set the stage for him to portray himself as the latest martyr for democracy. He has argued, as others have done before him, that he is being punished not for corruption but for standing up to Pakistan’s invisible government — the military-intelligence combine that has dominated the country effectively since 1958....

 

How is it possible for us and the government who always wanted to be seen at the forefront, championing the rights of the Palestinians and other persecuted Muslims, not to feel anguish and pain for the Uighurs and their present state of affairs, their trials, tribulations and torture? If these Uighurs were simply escaping the political persecution of the CCP, they should be protected at any cost, even if it upsets the Chinese to whom the previous government was indebted due to the hundreds of billions in loans. But this is a new dawn for a new Malaysia!...

 

In all this, the highest judiciary of the country has become the butt of jokes on social media, and the society at large. It seems to be collapsing under the weight of its current partnership with the military establishment in the civil-military battle. While taking “Nawaz Sharif to task”, it allowed former dictator Pervez Musharraf to leave the country. It even found a way to force the government to issue Musharraf with a new passport and identity card.....

 

Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam was a religious party closely allied with Indian National Congress during the 1930s and 1940s. While its president Mazhar Ali Azhar himself claimed to be from a Shia background in evidence before the Munir-Kayani Inquiry Committee after partition, the party by and large was a Sunni-supremacist party. In the curious political permutations of pre-partition British India, Ahrars being fiercely anti-British found themselves in alliance with secular socialist Jawaharlal Nehru. One of the key agenda items of the Ahrars was the idea of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat....

 

For the first 23 years after independence in 1947, Pakistanis were denied the right to vote. Since 1970, they have been allowed to vote intermittently but they are still denied the right to vote freely. The upcoming July 25 election in Pakistan has been marred by a series of attacks, some by the judiciary and others by the country’s ubiquitous military-intelligence machinery, aimed at politically decapitating former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League...

 

Riyadh has not officially announced its quest to wrest control from Jordan of the Temple Mount, home to the al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third most holy site after Mecca and Medina, but evidence is piling up against a backdrop of ever closer relations among Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain....

 

The military is Pakistan’s most powerful institution which uses both populism and democratic cover to legitimate its dominance, while the civilians are left with little option but to depend on the military to stay in power. Pakistan’s military elite in a furtive understanding with religious right-wing parties uses the weapon of Islamic ideology to tame Afghanistan, ‘bleed’ India and provoke the gullible masses against domestic opponents to the military’s dominance....

 

After all, the “mainstreaming” of terrorists without de-weaponisation, de-radicalisation and re-education could have disastrous consequences for the polity. While India will have to deal with whichever party comes to power, ultimately it will, as always, have to contend with the army’s mindset. What needs to be watched is the depth and breadth of the political footprint of the religious parties, especially the LeT. This will have long-term implications for India....

 

After the Arab uprisings of 2011, King Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz requested the religious establishment’s support to thwart the challenges that the uprisings posed to Saudi Arabia. The clerics helped him out but got him to increase the budgets of religious institutions, allowing greater repression of any breach of the Sharia in public space, promoting anti-Shiite discourse and muzzling secularist ideas....

Not a single resolution or official document of the Muslim League contained any reference to a promise of an Islamic state. This is a most significant fact given that the voters who were actually going to vote for the elections were not swayed by Barelvi Pirs in remote areas of Punjab but actual literature being circulated. These voters were the men and women of the world who saw in Muslim League an opportunity to build up a strong counter-force to what they feared would be caste Hindu domination at the centre....

 

The Erdogan Revolution is likely to continue in the foreseeable future, but it can’t go on forever. Ultimately, when Old Turkey fully fades and the tide turns against the reactionary excesses of Mr. Erdogan’s New Turkey, a third Turkey may arise: a Turkey where no group is hegemonic, no one feels like a “pariah in your own land” and finally every person is free....

 

It is this obsession with ‘the narrative’ that makes the army of a nuclear-armed country react to every tweet, social media post, website, article, or book that offers a different account of what might be Pakistan’s national interest and how events, contemporary or from the past, might have unfolded....

 

By honouring the Jordanian sovereign, the prize-givers are sending quite a subtle message about the value of patient diplomacy rooted in strong scholarly work. King Abdullah and his Hashemite dynasty have been responsible for some impressive initiatives aimed at curbing extremism within Islam and at easing tensions between the leading monotheistic faith...

 

He spoke to the silent majority: ordinary middle-class Turks who pay their taxes and want to enlarge their bank accounts. He pledged to keep them safe from “rabble rousers,” religious cults, armed insurgents and the pitfalls of Westernization. In his first years in power, Mr. Erdogan was considered a threat to the Turkish establishment. Under the new presidential system, he now embodies it....

 

Thanks to the special personal bond between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the rulers of the UAE, the bilateral relationship with the Gulf kingdom has been radically re-framed in the last four years. But Delhi is a long way from realising the full potential of the strategic partnership with Abu Dhabi....

 
Pakistan and its Theological Heart
Akbar Ahmed
Pakistan and its Theological Heart
Akbar Ahmed

“For Professor Akbar S Ahmed to be invited at the Council of Islamic Ideology — the heart of what many see as conservative ultra-orthodox interpretations of Islam which are often imposed on Pakistanis — and for him to speak with empathy and wisdom on women’s rights, respect for minorities, and universal ideas of peace and justice as core teaching tools for religious scholars and youth was breaking new ground!”....

 

Groups of girlfriends, meanwhile, are making celebratory plans for their first drive. Rezan Ben Hassan, 29, learned when she was 16 on desert camping trips with her family. She intends to take the keys to the family vehicle on Sunday and cruise to a cafe. In Al Khobar, Ms. Bassem, the motorcycle lover, plans to hit the road with friends from the local Harley Davidson club. Of their roughly 700 members in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, a handful of women love Hogs....

 

In other words, change Islam in its Saudi nucleus and you change the world. It was not, of course, Saudi moderation that put 15 Saudis on the 9/11 planes. It was the well-funded metastasis of extreme Saudi religious intolerance — its Wahhabi orthodoxy — into forms of murderous Islamist hatred of the apostate West. It was the House of Saud’s unseemly deal with fundamentalist clerical firebrands: Spare us here at home, and we’ll grant you license abroad....

 

Most analysis of the Saudi–Iranian rivalry seems to miss the fundamental points that underline the tension. Both countries are not trying to defend themselves from each other. Iran is trying to save itself from either foreign intervention or domestic unrest. While Saudi Arabia does not fear foreign intervention, it is concerned with domestic dissent....

The Old Moderate Barelvi Islam Changed To Radical Islam
Syed Kamran Hashmi
The Old Moderate Barelvi Islam Changed To Radical Islam
Syed Kamran Hashmi

In the name of devotion to the Prophet (PBUH), a doctrine that always distinguished Barelvis, they started using blasphemy and the belief in Muhammad (PBUH) as the last Prophet, to kill or threaten anyone who disagreed with their faith. Everything that was related to the Prophet, his shirt, his camel, his sword; the food that he liked to eat, the drinks he preferred, had to be respected the same way and up to the same extent by everyone. In other words, if He liked milk, and you didn’t, it was considered near blasphemy. ...

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