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  • Your Favourite Author's Page

      

    Sultan Shahin, Founder-Editor, NewAgeIslam.com

    Sultan Shahin, Founder-Editor of this progressive Islamic website NewAgeIslam.com and President of non-profit NGO New Age Islam Foundation and its subsidiary Education for Peace, a center for preventing radicalization, established in April 2008. He has over four decades of experience in journalism, mostly writing op-eds for major Indian and international publications, specializing in Islamic theology and Muslim politics. As a human rights defender, he has been representing major international NGOs and participating in debates at the UN Human Rights Council at Geneva for over a decade. He considers Islam as a spiritual path to salvation, one of the many, not a totalitarian political philosophy to dominate the world. He founded this website, seeking to rethink Islam, in all its aspects, to adjust to the demands of changing times, and thus to encourage Ijtihad in earnest.


    Please read below the articles written by him for NewAgeIslam.com

     
    Islamic Ideology
    How Islamic Are ‘Islamic’ Blasphemy Laws?
    Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    How Islamic Are ‘Islamic’ Blasphemy Laws?
    Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    Regardless of any justification for Blasphemy laws in Muslim countries, common sense suggests that they can only be applied to Muslims. Otherwise, the term blasphemy can be stretched to mean anyone who doesn’t believe Islam to be a true religion. But anti-Blasphemy laws are applied to non-Muslims in every Muslim country that has such laws. So ultimately the question is related to whether Muslims believe in freedom of religion. Clearly many don’t, except when they live in non-Muslim-majority countries.

    Although Quran, Islam’s foundational text, contains hundreds of verses asserting the legitimacy of other religions, a consensus in Islamic theology and jurisprudence has somehow emerged that other religions cannot be allowed to exist. Theologians cannot directly contradict the Quran by saying so, but this is the obvious implication of their doctrines of Jihad. Mainstream Islamic Theology and jurisprudence is completely based on a dichotomy between Muslim and Kafir. Kafirs have to be eventually eliminated from the world, either by persuasion or use of force. The only other option is they accept Muslim domination and accept the status of dhimmis (jizya-paying second class citizens).

    Islam and Politics
    Deoband- Bareilly Unity: Cosmetic and Dangerous
    Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    Deoband- Bareilly Unity: Cosmetic and Dangerous
    Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    As long as this Muslim-Kafir binary informs the consensus theology of ulema, it will be difficult for Muslims to live amicably with others. Temporary sectarian unity which could threaten permanent communal harmony is not the way forward. As Muslims, we need to not only bridge our internal divides, but also stop thinking in terms of Kafir and Momin. We cannot survive as Muslims in the 21st century multicultural world with our antiquated notions of supremacy and separatism....

    Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam
    Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now
    Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now
    Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    Denying freedom of religion to Muslims and ex-Muslims, not to speak of non-Muslims, indeed has a long and gory history. The Quranic dictum (2: 256) la ikraha fid Deen [Let there be no compulsion in religion] did not leave an impact beyond the life of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). Forcible conversions started with the first Caliph Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) fighting Ridda (apostasy) wars against the tribes who had left Islam after the demise of the Prophet. They were all brought back to the fold of Islam or killed. Similar is the case of Khwarij in the time of the fourth caliph Hazrat Ali (RA) and beyond to neo-Khwarij today, also known as Wahhabi or Salafi.  These groups mostly kill Muslims whom they consider “heretics” including Shias and Ahmadis....

    Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam

    If Islam Means Peace, Why Is Much Of Its Theology Soaked In Hatred, Humiliation, Offensive War?
    Sultan Shahin, New Age Islam

    Among many factors, social, economic, political, psychological, the one common feature is a brainwashing of vulnerable people on the basis of a supremacist, xenophobic, intolerant, exclusivist and totalitarian Jihadi theology. This is a blatant misuse of Islam, a spiritual path to salvation, that 1.6 billion Muslims believe, teaches peace, pluralism, co-existence and good neighbourliness.

     But there has to be a reason why jihadi ideology has gained acceptance so quickly; why fatwas issued by reputed moderate scholars prove so ineffective? How are Jihadis able to create a 100 percent certainty in the minds of some Muslims that violence against innocent people, including Muslims, whom they consider infidel, will please God and lead them to heaven?

     Clearly we Muslims need to rethink some basic features of our theology. Success of jihadism lies in the fact that, at its core, the jihadi theology is not very different from the consensus theology of all other schools of Islamic thought. For instance, jihadists are able to misuse the intolerant, xenophobic, war-time verses of the holy Quran, as Muslims believe that all verses, regardless of the context, are of universal applicability. Indeed, the Islamic theology of consensus, taught in all madrasas, says that Quran is uncreated, meaning that it is just an aspect of God; and so, divine like God Himself.....

    Islam, Women and Feminism

    Sultan Shahin Raises Triple Talaq Issue at UNHRC, Asks Muslims to Engage In Serious Rethinking Of Islamic Theology and Bring It In Line With the Needs of 21st Century
    Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    Mr. President,

    While the world’s attention is focused on violent extremism practised by a section of Muslims, gross violations of human rights are taking place in various Muslim societies in the name of religion. In a South East Asian country, the Arabic name of God is monopolised by Muslims. Non-Muslims using the traditional term Allah for God are punished. In a South Asian Muslim country thousands of Hindu and Christian girls, many under the age of 18, are abducted, forcibly converted to Islam, and then “married” to their abductors. In a Middle Eastern country, courts allow marriages of as small as 9-year-old girls and force them to consummate their “marriage” and live with their husbands. In my own country, India, Muslim husbands can utter the word talaq, meaning divorce, thrice in a row, and legally throw their wives out of their homes in less than a minute.

    While these are gross violations of human rights, they also amount to denigrating the religion of Islam. All these and many other similar social evils and criminal acts including terrorism are practiced as if they have been ordained by Islamic scriptures. This calls for deep introspection in the Muslim community. We Muslims should not allow our religion to be hijacked in this fashion.

    Mr. President, I would like to make a request, through you, to the representatives of Muslim countries in the Council. Dear Sirs, Madams, Please start a serious dialogue with theologians in your countries and ask them to open the gates of Ijtihad, the creative re-thinking. This was not only permitted, but ordained by God, in Islam’s primary scripture, the holy Quran, as no other Prophet was to come after Mohmmad (saw). We Muslims must revisit our theology in the light of the needs of the 21st century. We are not living in the 7th century and can neither fight those early battles nor organise our societies in that medieval fashion....


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    Related Articles:

    1.  Xenophobia and Religious Intolerance in Islamic Societies Is a Result of Deliberate Misinterpretation of Islamic Scriptures, Sultan Shahin Tells UNHRC

    2.  Coping With Critics of Moderate Islam

    3.  Muslims Need To Reflect Why So Many Millions of Us Are Leaving Islam for Christianity or Simply Calling Ourselves Ex-Muslim

    4.  Islam Fully Protects Human Rights of Religious Minorities: Sultan Shahin tells UNHRC at Geneva

    5.  Islamo-Fascism and Islam-Supremacism Feeding Islamophobia Worldwide: Sultan Shahin Tells UNHRC

    6.  Open Letter to Maulana Firangimahali: Why Do Moderate Ulema Stay Silent When Terrorists Claim - 'Islam Has Never Been A Religion Of Peace, Not Even For A Day'?

    7.  Terrorists Have Failed So Far and Should Not Be Allowed To Affect Global Multiculturalism, Sultan Shahin Tells Parallel Meeting at UNHRC in Geneva

    Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam

    Addressing the UNHRC at Geneva Sultan Shahin Questions Contemporary Applicability of Contextual Verses of Quran Meant For 7th Century Wars and the Divinity of Hadith and Sharia
    Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    Fifteen years after 9/11, the scourge of violent Islamist extremism has become even more complex and deadly. The alacrity with which 30,000 Muslims from around the world joined the so-called Islamic State’s war against humanity has puzzled many. How could a peaceful, pluralistic religion be subverted so easily to create inhuman monsters? Among many factors, social, economic, political, psychological, the one common factor is a brainwashing of vulnerable people on the basis of a supremacist, xenophobic, intolerant, exclusivist, totalitarian, Jihadi theology. 

    This is a blatant misuse of Islam, a spiritual path to salvation that teaches peace, pluralism, co-existence and good neighbourliness. But there has to be a reason why Jihadi ideology has gained acceptance; why fatwas issued by reputed moderate scholars are proving so ineffective? How are Jihadis able to create a 100 percent certainty in the minds of some Muslims that violence against innocent people, whom they consider infidel, will please God and lead them to Heaven?

    Clearly we Muslims need to rethink some basic features of our theology. Success of Jihadism lies in the fact that, at its core, the Jihadi theology is not very different from the consensus theology of all other schools of Islamic thought. Jihadists misuse the war-time verses of the holy Quran, as Muslims believe that all verses, regardless of the context, are of universal applicability. But most damaging for Islam and useful for Jihadism is the Doctrine of Abrogation whereby all peaceful Meccan verses are considered abrogated by the confrontational, war-time Medinan verses. Similarly the divinity attached to Hadith and Sharia and their universal applicability will have to be reconsidered by mainstream Islam, and not just to defeat Jihadism, but also to deal with many other issues including Human Rights of women, children and homosexuals....


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    Related Articles:

    1.  Open Letter to Maulana Firangimahali: Why Do Moderate Ulema Stay Silent  When Terrorists Claim - 'Islam Has Never Been A Religion Of Peace, Not Even For A Day'?

    2.  Do Not Entertain Any Defamation of Islam Resolution Until Islam Is Protected From Defamation by Jihadi Literature in the Islamic World First, Sultan Shahin Asks UN Human Rights Council

    3.  Islam Is Based On the Prophet's Mysticism, Honesty and Social Activism, Says Sultan Shahin in Pune: Muslims Should Strengthen These Spiritual Foundations of Islam and Not Fall Prey to Fascism

    4.  Do Muslims need to disassociate themselves from Salafi, Wahhabi ideologies of permanent war with non-Muslims and moderate Muslims? A New Age Islam debate

    5.  Terrorists Have Failed So Far and Should Not Be Allowed To Affect Global Multiculturalism, Sultan Shahin Tells Parallel Meeting at UNHRC in Geneva

    Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam

    If Sharia Is Divine, Why Don’t Ulema Demand Medieval Punishments Of Flogging, Amputation And Beheading For Muslims?
    Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    The Muslim reaction to Javed Akhtar’s tweet can be summed up by what Khalid Yunus Ansari wrote in Pratap of 11 September: “There has never been any dearth of opportunists and traitors among Muslims. These people may appear intelligent and educated but are ignorant of Muslim mores. … A real Muslim is one who consciously and even sub-consciously believes in and follows Islamic Laws, someone who cannot even imagine finding fault with or challenging or violating any of them. Even imagining any fault with Muslim Laws is absolute kufr (disbelief), not to speak of expressing such thoughts.”

    I have been reading Urdu newspapers for 45 years. While Muslims have been constantly fighting for the so-called Muslim Personal Law which allows them to treat women as inferior beings, never have I come across any Muslim demand for being governed by Islamic criminal laws. If Sharia is so important, if it is such a vital part of our faith, then why this dichotomy? Except for drinking alcohol, punishments for all other hudud crimes (mentioned in the Quran, considered crimes against God) are to be amputation, flogging and beheading. One would have thought that at least those Muslims who are so particular about following Sharia, and, of course, all ulema who consider Sharia divine would demand the implementation of the entire Sharia. Why follow only the part that helps keep women subjugated and avoid those that may lead to severe medieval punishments specified by Quran and Hadees....

    Islamic Society

    Don’t Let Baqr Eid Qurbani Descend Into Blood Orgy: Let the Qurbani of Eid ul Adha retain its spirituality, celebrating the spirit of Hazrat Ibrahim’s sacrifice
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Prophet Mohammad was very emphatic in his views on animal sacrifice: “if you MUST kill, kill without torture.” Unfortunately, this admonition is also ignored. The two million animals that were sacrificed in Saudi Arabia at the end of Hajj yesterday had been brought to the country in most horrible conditions, many of them dying en route.

     I personally witnessed the torture animals go through when I was in Karachi on Baqr Eid, a few years ago. The whole city appeared to have turned into a slaughter house. One could hear the cries of goats and sheep for days before Eid, while they were still being traded in city squares and even in roundabouts on major arterial roads. The animals apparently knew what fate was awaiting them. It was the obscenity of the whole scene that I cannot forget. Baqr Eid, the holiest of days, had descended into an orgy of blood-letting, with the “devotion” that God requires completely missing.

    The callousness we Muslims display towards animals would give the impression that the religion of Islam is indifferent to the fate of animals. In fact, Islam requires Muslims to protect, not just Human Rights, but HuqooqulIbaad or the rights of all creations of God.

    HuqooqulIbaad is considered so important that it is given primacy even over Huqooq Allah or our duties towards God. While God may forgive us for our transgressions, given his Benevolent and Merciful nature, His creations will not even recognise us on the Day of Judgement. So we must fulfil our duties towards creations of God in this very world, since we cannot hope for forgiveness from them on the Day of Judgement.

    Muslims should also remember the conduct of the Prophet in treating animals with kindness. On many occasions, during his journeys, he delayed prayers for the sake of first relieving the animals of their burden, and giving them food and water. He would refuse to lead prayers until animals were looked after first. He told several stories of people being forgiven all their sins for having shown consideration for a dog or a cat. According to Imam Abu Dawud, the Prophet forbade the hitting of animals on their faces and branding them. He also forbade sports based on animal fights.

    Radical Islamism and Jihad

    Open Letter to Maulana Firangimahali: Why Do Moderate Ulema Stay Silent When Terrorists Claim - 'Islam Has Never Been A Religion Of Peace, Not Even For A Day'?
    Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    I didn’t see you questioning the notorious tele-evangelist Dr. Zakir Naik when he said: “all Muslims should be terrorists” or when he said: “Quran allows Muslims to have sex with female slaves.” Indeed, you all kept quiet when Naik made hateful remarks like the following: “People in the west eat pork and hence behave like pigs. Pigs are the only animals in the world that invite their friends to have sex with their partners. Westerners also do the same.” Naik has made insulting other religions in the guise of comparative study or interfaith dialogue his speciality. But I find almost the entire fraternity of Muslim ulema coming out in his defence when it was discovered that his discourse inevitably inspired several people around the world who took to the path of terrorism.

    Worst of all, you and all other ulema kept quiet when Maulana Abdul Aleem Islahi of Hyderabad asked Muslims to pray for the Islamic State. In a press release available online he said: “Condemnation of their (Islamic State’s) action may not be called sagacity and will be considered against the spirit of Islam. … they have tried to fulfil the dream of a large section of Muslims and their determination has infused a new life into the concept of Caliphate. Their announcement (of caliphate) has surpassed Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Maulana Abul Ala Maududi’s powerful writings and speeches about Caliphate and has realized the concept practically. …..

    Radical Islamism and Jihad

    Why Muslim Ulema Should Confront Zakir Naik? How Does He Encourage Islamist Terrorism?
    Sultan Shahin, Founder Editor, New Age Islam

    Our focus should not be so much on Zakir Naik as on the question: why and how has he so easily succeeded in radicalising millions. Only a few of these millions may go on to join terrorism, but radicalisation of the millions is the real problem. … In my view the reason he has succeeded is that he is not saying anything new, or vastly different from what other clerics say. He is using the theology of consensus, the same theology that is taught in universities and madrasas. … That is why ulema cannot oppose him in a meaningful way. …

    You cannot say in the same breath that instructions in all verses of Quran and narrations of Hadees are applicable to us Muslims even today in the 21st century and that those who are following these 7th century war-time contextual instructions in Quran and Hadees to fight and kill the combatants as well as civilians are wrong. If ulema indeed want to save the community from further radicalisation, they just have to introspect on their own hypocrisy and help evolve a new and coherent theology of peace and pluralism based on the foundational, universal verses of Quran. We will have to come out and say clearly and repeatedly that contextual verses meant for war in the seventh century are no longer applicable to us today. They have merely historical value and tell us the story of what nearly insurmountable difficulties our prophet (pbuh) had to face to safeguard the nascent religion of Islam then. Islam is no longer an infant today. It ahs grown up and found space in 1.6 billion hearts. It can very well take care of itself. Muslims n longer need to fight and kill and put terror in the hearts of so-called kuffar and mushrikeen for Islam to survive as was the case in the 7th century (C.E).

    Radical Islamism and Jihad

    Dhaka Attack: Facing The Challenge Of Zakir Naik, Will Ulema Rise To The Occasion?
    Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    Our focus should not be so much on Zakir Naik as on the question: why and how he has so easily succeeded in radicalising millions. Saudis and ahl-e-hadithis have only provided him logistical support. In my view the reason he has succeeded is that he is not saying anything new. He is using the theology of consensus, the same theology that is taught in universities and madrasas of all schools of thought.

    His distinction is in the presentation, using modern means of communication. He is reaching those who did not have access to this theology before.

    That is why ulema cannot oppose him or other militant Islamic preachers. Sufi-Barailvis and even Deobandis have tried. They are angry because he has exposed their hypocrisy. ...

    The War Within Islam

    Why Are Indian Ulema Silent Over Islamic State’s Challenge:  Unwillingness Or Inability?
    Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    Ulema wield considerable influence. Their silences matter as much as their statements. Those who expect help from them in fighting Islamist terrorism are mistaken. The contempt with which neo-Salafists treat our ulema is well-deserved. Nor can one expect much from secular, liberal moderates. While they are implacably opposed to terrorism, and wary of living as a suspect as every Muslim is today, they are not willing to engage with the Islamist theology. This requires them to overcome the inevitable fear of violent death. Ask liberals of neighbouring Bangladesh. Not many have this level of motivation in spite of the chaos all around. As for political leaders, Muslim and non-Muslim, the less said the better. Politicians are called leaders but they actually follow the herd. Hardly any ‘leader’ is in sight.

    However, one must take hope from history. Extremism has always been a part of Islamic history. But Muslims have managed to defeat it. At the moment, extremism is particularly influential, radicalising almost the entire society, largely as a result of tens of billions of petrodollars having been invested in this project over the last four decades. But the essence of Islamic spirituality, peace and pluralism, will find a way of bouncing back. To help this process, concerned Muslims will have to evolve a new theology, a theology of peace and pluralism and reach the Muslim ummah directly, over the heads of the ulema. This pluralistic theology must be based on Islam as a spiritual path to salvation, rather than a totalitarian ideology of world domination, as the current consensus dictates. Merely focusing on positive features of Islam, as some suggest, will not help. This is the age of internet. Nothing can be hidden. We will have to engage with the Islamist and neo-Salafist theology, taking, as it were, the bull by its horns. There are no soft options.

    Debating Islam

    Reform Muslim Personal Law, Use Debate on Triple Talaq as an opportunity to Breach the Stagnation in Muslim Religious Thought
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Reform of Muslim personal law is the need of the hour. A demand for this has been made for decades in conferences, seminars and marches, organised by several progressive Islamic organisations including New Age Islam Foundation. These demands need to be intensified and peaceful demonstrations organised on a large scale, demanding that the government reform these laws. It will inevitably be opposed and equally inevitably expose the two-facedness of Islamic fundamentalists in the country. This would lead to a much needed debate on the hypocrisy of our ulema.

    Faced with a barrage of questions, the ulema have now decided to challenge the progressive Muslims on their theological knowledge and more importantly, the courage, to stand up to their beliefs. At the same time, they are blaming them for encouraging courts to intervene, while taking their regular subversive position that courts and government should not intervene in matters of Muslim Personal Law as it is a matter of faith.

    Rather than being cowed into silence or even dismiss this challenge as an effort to obfuscate matters, progressive Muslims should pick up the gauntlet and battle it out. This should be used as a great opportunity to breach the total stagnation that has prevailed in Islamic theological debates in the country. This will not only help the victims of our Anglo-Mohammedan Personal Law but also help open up issues related to violent extremism that is attracting our youth more and more in the absence of debate. For instance, accepting that triple talaq is not a part of Quranic teachings or even Hadith (sayings of the Prophet). A classical Muslim scholar, Hafeez Nomani, has asked if Quran alone is legitimate Islamic scripture and whether a bid’at (innovation) like triple talaq ordered by the second Caliph Hazrat Umar cannot be considered legitimate. He then goes on to ask that if triple talaq cannot be accepted, as it is a bid’at, then what about Quran, which in its present form is itself an innovation ordered by the same caliph and completed by the third Caliph Hazrat Usman.

    These are among the issues that Muslims need to debate urgently for the wider good of the community as well as the nation and the world. We must never forget the solemn warning issued by Canadian scholar Winfred Cantwell Smith in mid-20th century that a healthy, functioning Islam is crucial for world peace. Clearly, the Islam today is not healthy and functioning. So it is not only the Muslims but the nation at large that should welcome an opportunity to debate and understand Islamic theological issues.

    Radical Islamism and Jihad

    An Appeal to Sufi Divines: Please Go Beyond Clichés Like Islam Is a Religion of Peace,Refute the Generally Accepted Core Theology Which Is Helping Jihadis Lure Our Youths to Terrorism
    Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    Respected Sufi divines, I would, therefore, earnestly appeal to you to use the opportunity provided by the Delhi conclave to go beyond the usual shibboleths. Sufi approach of focussing on the positive features of Islam worked well at one time. There was no internet then. In the internet age everyone is a scholar. In this age of instant scholarship, nothing can be hidden or bypassed.

    It must be understood, that the radical Islamist theology and the current Islamic theology of consensus are by and large one and the same. Any differences are cosmetic. ISIS may vanish tomorrow. But the problem of radicalisation will remain. Islam supremacism, xenophobia, intolerance and exclusivism are inherent in the current Islamic, and not just Islamist theology.

    Focusing on positive features of Islam is an essential part of De-radicalisation or, more realistically, Preventing Radicalisation. But it is not bearing fruit in full measure as the core theology agreed to by nearly all Muslims militates against these positives. As briefly outlined above, this core and consensual theology nullifies the impact of all arguments made against violent extremism. It is this core theology that needs to be refuted and changed.  Let us all try and bring the core Islamic theology in line with the actual teachings of Quran and Sunnah. Let us move away from the current theology of violence and xenophobia. Let us move towards a coherent, comprehensive theology of peace and pluralism, co-existence and gender justice.

    Radical Islamism and Jihad

    Religious and Theological Underpinning of Global Islamist Terror: Full Text of Speech at International Counter Terrorism Conference 2016 in Jaipur
    Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    ISIS may be militarily defeated tomorrow and even go out of existence. But this will not solve the problem of Muslim radicalisation. If our madrasas and educational institutions continue to prepare the ground for self-segregation and militancy, expounding the current theology, mixed with narratives of victimhood and marginalisation, Islam will continue to be hobbled, Muslims will continue to struggle to fit in the way of life in contemporary world.

    Moderate, progressive Muslims must urgently evolve and propagate an alternative theology of peace and pluralism, consistent in all respects with the teachings of Islam, and suitable for contemporary and future societies, while refuting the current theology of violence and supremacism.

    Unfortunately, as we have seen above, the task is not so easy. Radicalisation has not just happened overnight. Jihadi theology has evolved over hundreds of years. Major theologians who have studied Islam independently have brought to us a political version of Islam, stripping the religion of all its spirituality.

    While it is primarily the duty of Muslims to fight this ideological war within slam, this is no longer just a Muslim concern. The world too must confront Muslim scholars with the supremacism and extremism present in their theology and ask them to rethink Islam.  ProgressiveMuslims should join the rest of the world to defeat extremism in Islamic theology.

    Islam and Pluralism

    Indian Muslim orthodoxy's response to demands of modernity: Can Muslims co-exist with other religious communities in plural societies?
    Sultan Shahin, Foundidng Editor, New Age Islam

    While the evolution of this comprehensive and coherent theology of peace and pluralism will remain a continuing process, the already available essential elements of this theology should be brought to the Muslim masses. Since support for such a venture cannot be expected from clerics, of any hue,  popular acceptance of this theology should be gained through the use of media as well as genuine grassroots movements.

    Essentially, Jihadism is a Muslim problem and Muslims must tackle it. But the societies in non-Muslim majority countries can help kick-start the debate.  It must be understood that a madrasa graduate who has been brainwashed into believing, as most are, that "life begins in the grave," is a ticking time bomb that should be defused with the same urgency as other bombs are. A secular government should not allow anyone to spread the poison of intolerance and xenophobia either in mosques or in madrasas. A study of what is taught in Indian madrasas, and the content of sermons delivered in mosques, is urgently required. If found intolerant, supremacist, exclusivist and xenophobic, the ulema, madrasas and imams should be confronted with them and asked to change.

    Also, the least the government of India can do to ameliorate the plight of Muslim women today is to promulgate a law similar to Pakistan's  Muslim Family Laws Ordinance of 1961, with just one difference, fixing the age of marriage of girls at 18, instead of 14, as in the Ordinance. This should have been done along with reforms in Hindu personal laws in the 1950s, or at least immediately after reforms in Muslim laws in Pakistan. But better half a century late than never. Male chauvinist Indian Muslim ulema will still howl in protest. But they will not have much to say as these reforms have been acceptable to their counterparts in Pakistan and Bangladesh for over half a century. ...  Muslims have to start reclaiming the Islam that the Prophet had brought and rethinking how it can be lived and practised in the vastly changed circumstances of the 21st century.

    Islam,Terrorism and Jihad

    Facing The Jihadist Challenge: Muslims Need To Refute Jihadis’ Xenophobic, Supremacist, Millenarian Thesis And Focus On Islamic Pluralism, Says Sultan Shahin At UNHRC In Geneva
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Facing the brutalities of Islamist terror, while President Obama will not go beyond calling it violent extremism, the head of Sunni Islam's oldest seat of learning, Jamia al-Azhar admitted in a counter-terrorism conference in Mecca that extremism was caused by “corrupt interpretations of Quran and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad”, and Islamic curriculums needed to change.

    This call for reform, coming from Jamia Al-Azhar, is gratifying. But a half-hearted approach to reform will not work. The problems Muslims face are very basic and cannot be solved with mere tinkering with text-books. The global Muslim community will have to introspect. One question repeatedly asked, for instance, is about the contextual verses of the holy Quran that are utilised by Jihadists to brainwash our youth. Jihadists present these contextual verses as an eternal guide for Muslims.

    One would imagine that the followers of Islam who believe, and many certainly do, that Islam is a religion of spirituality, peace, coexistence and tolerance, would be up in arms against the Islamic State. But while routine denunciations from some sections do come occasionally, there is no outrage visible in the Muslim society. The world cannot help noticing that while tens of thousands of Muslims come out on streets to demonstrate the moment there is an allegation of so-called blasphemy against any one, hardly any Muslim would protest at the myriad brutalities perpetrated by Islamist terrorists.

    Clearly there is something wrong, some disconnect, some deeper and more complex phenomenon at work than what can be understood from a superficial look at the issue. Instead of expressing outrage, we find thousands of Muslim young men and women running from their comfortable homes, private schools and cushy jobs to fight and join in the brutalities of the so-called Islamic State. Some 12,000 Muslim young men and women are said to have joined so far from 80 countries……

    Radical Islamism and Jihad

    Is This Islam, Asks A Crying Peshawar Mother: This Is Not Islam, Say Indian Clerics, But What About Maulana Islahi's Justifications Of Indiscriminate Violence; Will They Throw Him Out Of Islam?
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    India’s Muslim clerics call the Peshawar attack an act against the very tenets of Islam. Perpetrators of such violence, they say, have nothing to do with religion and there is no justification for the killing of children.

    Unexceptionable sentiments. I couldn't agree more. But the question doesn't go away. How come if such dastardly violence is a violation of Islam, why are Islamic madrasa students, well-versed in Islamic tenets, perpetrating such atrocities almost every day for years now practically wherever they can. More importantly, how come maulanas like Abdul Aleem Islahi of Hyderabad justify indiscriminate violence of civilians and continue to be revered members of the maulana community. Will the maulanas now come together and expel this man from the pale of Islam?

    I am giving below a translation of some selected portions from an essay  Maulana Abdul Aleem Islahi wrote in reply to Dr Nejatullah Siddiqi's essay on Islam and violence in which he essentially expressed the kind of sentiments that the maulanas quoted above are now expressing following the Peshawar terrorist violence. Maulana Islahi's refutation amounts to justification of Talibani violence.

    None of the above quoted maulanas or even Dr Siddiqi himself, to the best of my knowledge, has rebutted Maulana Islahi yet, not to speak of turning him out of the pale of Islam. Indeed, there has been no dilution in the respect and reverence he commands in the community of clerics. He continues to run his madrasa and indoctrinate his Taliban, many of them girls. He has inspired a generation Indian Muslim terrorists in the meantime. He is now known as the ideological father of Indian Mujahedeen. Will the maulanas care to explain why they have no opinion in the matter of Maulana Islahi's Jihadi literature. Are they waiting for an Indian version of Peshawar to happen to condemn the Indian Taliban who are being inspired by Maulana Alimuddin Islahi?....

     

    Related Article:

    Violence, Islam And The Islamic Movement: Can Terrorism Be At All Justified In Islam? - Part 4 

    Islam and Pluralism

    Islam and Hinduism: Spiritual Symbiosis - Part 2: Who is a Kafir in Islam; Are Hindus Kafir or Ahl-e-Kitab?
    Sultan Shahin, Founder-Editor, New Age Islam

    Like any other living Faith, controversies abound in Islam. One of the most controversial issues is the relationship of a Muslim with people belonging to other religions. Since in India Muslims have always lived next to a very large non-Muslim community, this issue has created even deeper controversies. While there are Muslims who would insist on treating Hindus as Kafir, there are others who would insist that they should actually be treated as Ahl-e-Kitab, people bearing revealed books, a people who have a special place in Islamic theology and practice.

    Disregarding the advice of some ulema of his time, the first Arab to conquer parts of India, Sind and Multan, had made a good beginning, giving the Hindus the same status as Ahl-e-Kitab, people with whom Muslims are supposed to have good social relations including marital relations. Since then, the Hindu-Muslim interaction has taken place constantly in a variety of ways. This is not the place to go into history, but we are all aware of the differences of approach between say an Akbar or Dara Shikoh and an Aurangzeb

    Islam and Pluralism
    Islam and Hinduism: Spiritual Symbiosis - Part 1
    Sultan Shahin, Founder-Editor, New Age Islam

    Islam and Hinduism: Spiritual Symbiosis - Part 1
    Sultan Shahin, Founder-Editor, New Age Islam

    Islam and Hinduism have lived in India together for almost 14 centuries. The first 13 as excellent neighbours. “Love thy neighbour, for he is yourself”, said the Vedas. The Quran agreed: “do good - to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer” (An-Nisa 4.36). But the 20th century changed all that. As a result of the British colonial Divide-and-Rule policy, the country witnessed growing disaffection, culminating in partition at the time of Independence from colonial rule and periodic outbursts of unimaginable savagery on the part of both the communities.

    Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam

    Sultan Shahin Condemns Qital In The Name Of Jihad, Questions Claim that Since Even Sufi Scholars Call Quran Uncreated, Eternal Like God, Quran’s Contextual Verses Too Are Applicable To Muslims For Ever
    Sultan Shahin, Founder-Editor, New Age Islam

    Editorial Note:  The following is an article by a Sufi scholar, a product of Indian Sufi madrasas who seeks to prove using age-old arguments that Quran is uncreated, divine like God, eternal, and so all its verses, including the contextual and militant, are of universal significance.

    Why do we need to discuss and even take a stand on this hoary controversy today while many wise men of the past have tried to brush these under the carpet? Let me explain this as I have done before in different threads.

    Why is Quran being created or uncreated relevant for us today? If Quran is created, that is, if it  is a compilation of verses that came from time to time to guide the prophet as the need arose, the context of the verses become important. In this situation only verses that do not require a context assume universal significance. This is as it should be. This is the commonsensical position.  If it is uncreated, however, as all the madrasas apparently teach, just a copy of the eternal book lying safe in "lauh-e-mahfooz" in the divine vaults, from eternity, then each and every verse assumes eternal significance and has to be followed without reference to the context.

    That is why all our madrasas that teach this are creating radical literalists who see no reason why they should apply their mind. If Quran says somewhere, “kill the kafir," they can go out and kill the kafir. No reference to context is needed. Every word is of eternal significance. It is just a copy of the  book safe in lauh-e-mahfooz in heaven. ---- Sultan Shahin

    The War Within Islam

    'Recruit Sunnis for a Powerful Global Islamic Army to Fight Shias and Help Muslims in Need; Five Lakh Brave Indian Youth Will Be Provided': Maulana Salman Nadvi to Saudi Government
    Maulana Salman Hussaini Nadvi

    Note:  New Age Islam is presenting below full text of a charter of demands presented some time ago to the Saudi government by Maulana Salman Hussaini Nadvi, the first Indian Muslim to embrace the self-styled khilafat of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (in translation from Arabic). It gives us an idea of how this member of al-Baghdadi Khilafat, also apparently still a holder of Indian nationality, looks at terrorism, sectarian war, the role of Saudi government and Muslim umma in general. His world view is here in full view. The worrying thing for me is that this is not just his view. There are many takers for this view. If he is promising to put together an army of five lakh (5,00,000) Muslim youth from the Indian sub-continent, essentially India, as he has no influence anywhere else, is he just making a tall claim? Only proper investigation can reveal.

    The silence with which Indian Muslims have greeted the call of Baghdadi's so-called Khilafat is also quite confusing. One doesn't know if it is meaningful and revealing. One would have thought that Muslim ulema here would come out all guns blazing against this absurdity of a medieval khilafat in the 21st century. Instead, there is no protest even when an influential Maulana joins the Khilafat. The Sufi ulema and mashaikh that New Age Islam correspondents interviewed are quite categorical in their condemnation but they have got little influence now. Most Muslims have already developed a radical Wahhabi mindset, even though some of them continue to go to Sufi shrines and do not even realise it yet. Power of the petrodollar-funded Islamic mass media, you can say.

    Let me just give you a rough and very brief idea of Nadvi's world view here. In this charter of demands, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Hasani Nadvi, he is asking Saudi Arabia to organise a Khilafat for the Muslim umma, the global Muslim community, which would have a world Islamic Army in which he would contribute five lakh Muslim youth from India. He says there is no need for recruiting youth from among the messed up youth of the Gulf, when you can find them right here. This army would stand behind Muslims wherever they are in trouble. He wishes that terrorists should not be called terrorists and thus antagonised. They are sincere Muslim youth fighting for a noble cause. There should be a confederation of Jihadi organisations active across the Islamic world midwifed by Ulema who should help them hold a dialogue among themselves so they come together and iron out their differences and emerge as one powerful global force.

    Let me quote to you his exact words, though in translation from Arabic. (A picture of the original letter in Arabic is given below) Syed Salman Hussaini Nadvi says: "as for the issue of Qadiyanis particularly Safvids and those who abuse the Sahaba (companions of the Prophet - meaning Shias), we should not be afraid of them and we do not need to go to the US or Israel to ward off threats from them. Just recruit the Ahl-e-Sunnah youth from the Indian sub-continent and form a powerful Muslim army of the Islamic world. After that there will be no need of the so-called army of the sick youth of the Gulf States. If you are sincere towards the True faith, True path, Sunnah and for the protection of the true path of Islam, then simply make an appeal, a call. Five lakh brave youth from the Indian sub-continent will be provided."

    Maulana Nadvi says: "Since the land of Kaabah is the beating heart of the entire Muslim community and is the centre of the Islamic world, the holy Prophet (pbuh) had said about it, 'Drive out the Christians and the Jews' (from Arabia) and had decided that this land is a sacred land for the entire Muslim Ummah and so there is no room here for the Christians and the Jews in the same way there is no room for Muslims in Vatican.

    "Therefore this is the responsibility of the government of the Aal-e-Saud (to drive out the Christians and the Jews from Arabia and establish such a nation which will have no non-Muslims)."

    He also says: "Military training among the Muslim youth should be stressed. Every effort should be made to save them from Freedom and social ills."

    We Indians have a peculiar problem to deal with. The father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi had vociferously supported Muslims having double loyalties, extra-territorial loyalties to an Islamic Khilafat, the Ottoman Empire, then based in Turkey. Now that Gandhiji's party is not in power, maybe the government will put its foot down and say that those who are loyal to al-Baghdadi's Khilafat will no longer be Indian citizens. They will not be allowed to recruit here for the proposed global Islamic Army. --- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    The War Within Islam

    Indian Maulana Salman Nadwi Congratulates Abu Bakr Baghdadi, Accepts Him As Caliph Of Muslims, Writes Him A Letter Expressing His Excitement At The Establishment Of Islamic Caliphate
    By Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    In our previous editorial, we had expressed our sense of relief that Abu Bakr Baghdadi’s caliphate has been accepted by only terrorist organisations in Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria and the religious scholars of the world, especially the Egyptian Islamic scholar and mufti Yousuf Al Qaradhawi had rejected Abu Bakr’s claim to be the caliph of the Muslims of the world as null and void and un-Islamic. But to our utter shock, we have come to know through a news report published in the front page of Urdu daily Aag of Lucknow that one of the renowned Islamic scholar and great grandson of Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi has congratulated Abu Bakr Baghdadi on being appointed as the caliph of Muslims and has prayed for his well being and safety. In a letter written to Baghdadi which is available on What’s App, he has showered praises on his valour and religious zeal with which he has taught a lesson to the tyrant ruler Nuri Al Maliki. In his two page letter, Maulana Salman Nadvi has addressed Abu Bakr Baghdadi as Ameerul Momineen and has praised Abu Bakr Baghdadi for establishing the much desired Islamic Caliphate......

    The War Within Islam

    Imran Khan, Tahirul Qadri and Maulana Fazl ur Rahman Out To Scuttle Zarb-e-Azb
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Taking into account the behaviour of Imran Khan, Tahirul Qadri and of Maulana Fazl ur Rahman, it can be said that they do not want the operation to continue because it has broken the back of the Taliban and if the ground and aerial offensive continues, they might be annihilated. This has prompted the Taliban to press their agents in the government like Chaudhary Nisar Ali, Maulana Fazl ur Rahman and Imran Khan to disturb the process and possibly stall the operation to give Taliban time to reorganise themselves and regain strength....

    The War Within Islam

    Indian Urdu Media's Dilemma: To Support Or Not To Support The Islamic State Of Iraq And Greater Syria and the Islamic Khilafat of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Urdu Press is by and large sympathetic to the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham. This can be seen in its acts of omission and commission. It completely ignored the news that the ISIS had asked the residents of Mosul to offer their daughters in Jiahd al Nikah to the fighters. It also mostly ignored two workers returned from Iraq on July 3, Safdar Kunhi and Mohammad Abbas, who  narrated their harried experience of escape from Najaf.  Mohammad Abbas had called ISIS militants "barbarians" and added that he had never heard of or seen anything like this before. He had said: "The violence is unparalleled, the brutality unbearable.” But when one of Keralite nurses released from captivity praised the good behaviour of ISIS militants towards them, a section of Urdu media went overboard, blowing the news out of all proportions. ...

    The Urdu media is by and large secular and balanced in their approach towards sectarian and extremist ideologies and presents the two sides of an issue as Akhbar-e-Mashriq has also done. But when it comes to religion or dealing with someone supposedly religious, it gets confused. Urdu media should take a more mature approach while presenting and dealing with issues like the ISIS. Clearly a section of the Urdu Press has sympathies for ISIS. This requires a rethink. The earlier Muslims make up their mind about them the better. While Nuri al-Maliki is to blame for alienating Sunnis and behaving like a Shia dictator, the answer is not a Sunni band of terrorists loyal to the the Islamic Khilafat of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ruling parts of Iraq.

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    Radical Islamism and Jihad
    Indian Muslim Clergy to Counter ISIS Propaganda: But they should go beyond rhetoric to a genuine counter-narrative that refutes Jihadism based on traditional Islamic theology

    The clergy is required to counter the exclusivist Jihadi theology of violence and supremacism which is primarily based on the traditional Islamic theology of consensus of all schools of thought. This has to be done through a counter-narrative based on a new inclusivist theology of peace and pluralism. But to do that the clergy will have to work towards evolving a new theology that is different from the traditional theology taught in madrasas. It is this age-old theology that is used by Jihadis to propagate their message. 

    It cannot be stressed enough that the reason Jihadis have been able to capture the imagination of thousands of our youth the world over is that they are not saying anything new. They are simply showing a way to practice what the ulema (religious scholars) have been preaching. The Jihadi narrative is the traditional Islamic theological narrative of Islam domination over all other religious beliefs, and eradication of what it considers the biggest crimes humanity can commit, particularly shirk, polytheism or idol worship, and kufr, rejection of the prophethood of Hazrat Mohammad (pbuh). All the most eminent scholars of Islam from Imam Ghazali (11th-12th century) to Imam Ibn-e-Taimiya (13th-14th century), Mujaddid Alf-e-Saani Sheikh Sirhindi (16th-17th century), Shah Waliullah Muhaddis Dehlavi (18th century) have shown a vision of political Islam that was finally given a more definite form in the 20th century by Maulana Syed Abul A’la Maududi, Hassan al-Banna, and Syed Qutb. The Jihadi ideologues of the 21st century may be stressing some parts of this traditional narrative more vigorously and downplaying some other aspects. But they are not saying anything that is entirely new or radically different.

    Jihadi literature has not dropped from the sky all of a sudden. This is not the creation of Osama bin Laden or so-called “Khalifa” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Their narrative of world domination, fighting those who do not accept the message of Islam is basically what is taught in all our madrasas. The definition of Jihad as fighting those who do not accept the oneness of God and prophethood of Mohammad (pbuh) is found in books of every school of Sunni fiqh (jurisprudence), be it Hanafi, Malaki, Shafei or Hanbali. Indeed, even Shia theology does not differ much with Sunnis in matters of political Islam. They too want world domination for Islam and desire to subdue all non-Muslims.

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