• Similar initiative has to be taken from the Muslim teaching community and Trustees of Minority institutions.'
    ( By Mohd Farooque Khan )
    ( By Adnan Abdul wali )
  • what a moving piece! hats off lady! you should write a novel. you seem to have so much material and such a fine eye for detail.
    ( By hats off! )
  • Amazing'
    ( By Dipanshu Dipanshu )
  • Good mourning
    ( By Jaimish Kumar )
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  • Nice
    ( By Bijoy Chowdhury )
  • جو شخص تکبر کی نیت سے پائجامہ کو ٹخنوں سے پہنے ان کے لیے یہ وعید ہے ۔درج ذیل حدیث پر غور کریں:...
    ( By GGS )
  • تبلیغی جماعت کے لوگوں میں اکثر پائجامہ کو ٹخنے سے نیچے پہننے کے معاملے میں شدت پسدی دیکھی جاتی ہے....
    ( By Abdullah )
  • وعلیکم السلام ۔۔۔امام شافعی کے قول کی تشریح میں علما یہ بیان کرتے ہیں کہ اس سے حقیقی کافر مراد نہیں ہے بلکہ ...
    ( By GGS )
  • السلام علیکم ورحمۃ اللّٰہ تعالیٰ وبرکاتہ (امام شافعی کے نزدیک) ایک وقت کی نماز ترک کرنے والا کافر ہے...
    ( By Rizwan Muzawar )
  • Mr.Ghulam Mohiyuddin is hysterial about my comments on the Biography ....
    ( By Dr.A.Anburaj )
  • GM....you have a problem with reading comprehension. I did not defend any jingoistic claims. I....
    ( By secularlogic )
  • Of course! 14C. ago we were ordered to follow such regulations of Scientific...
    ( By Gulshan Ismail )
  • Sensible article!'
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • We must follow the same rules that all others follow. The Qur’an....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • (Addendum to my last comment) Police refute Amar Ujala report...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Dr. Anburaj, Your letter is hogwash. Nobody would reply to such a letter...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Dr. Anburaj, While fake news is rampant throughout the world, all fake news in India seems...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Secularlogic, Your defending the grossly unscientific and jingoistic claims of top....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • There is a pattern at NAI comments section. Comments are made against....
    ( By Arshad )
  • I hope Maria Sanchez , scholar ,would post her / his comment on my letter.
    ( By Dr.A.Anburaj )
  • Mr. Ghulam Mohiyuddin Please answer the points raised by Shan Barani.That is the real problem....
    ( By Dr.A.Anburaj )
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    ( By Shan Salmani )
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  • Masa allah shandar zabardast lajawab tasweer bahut hi khubsurat kya bat hai very nice'
    ( By Jafar Jafar )
  • Super'
    ( By Nagender Chauhan )
  • Super duper'
    ( By Sanjay Yadav )
  • Mashallah
    ( By Ikramuddin Sheikh )
  • Top'
    ( By Mo Hasim )
  • Wow'
    ( By Mo Hasim )
  • Shan Barani belongs to propganda cell. This lie has been exposed by the media and even by police. '
    ( By Arshad )
  • Let us now take on your objections to Hindu mps, mlas and PM speaking about things like gaumutra,...
    ( By secularlogic )
  • 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

    Islam and the West

    Islam-Supremacism Taking Roots in the US too: Moderate American Muslims have a Herculean Task Ahead
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    •         Islam is a universal religion. Our prophet came to serve humanity. All other prophets came to serve only their people. Only al-Islam is a universal religion for all humanity.

    •         Sword protected al-Islam for 1,000 years. There was no state to protect Bible or other holy books. Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) created a state to protect the Quran. So Quran was protected. Sword protected it.

    •         Quran is word of God. Word for word. Word of God and Man are mixed together in Bible. In Torah, Prophet Ishmael is described as an ass. Can God call one of his prophets an ass? 

    These are the views of Imam Shamsi Ali, the Imam of Islamic Culture Centre of New York, and a very influential Muslim religious leader…. It’s a careful study of his views that is likely to tell us where American Islam is heading. … The above quotes must have given you some idea. Imam Shamsi is clearly a representative of Wahhabi, petrodollar Islam. And why not? He is the Imam of a mosque that was built by Arab petrodollars, mostly from Kuwait. So the ambassador of Kuwait is always the chairman of the board of management that runs the Islamic centre; nearly all Arab ambassadors are members of the board. …

    Clearly moderates who can read the writing on the wall have to fight as fierce a battle in the US as elsewhere. Saudi Arabia will continue to export Wahhabism around the world. It will continue to spend tens of billions of dollars on the project as it has since 1974 and has continued even after 9/11. It would be futile to expect any support from the US or any other government. The US will continue to protect Saudi evangelism and flouting of civilised Islamic norms of behaviour. If there was one country asking for regime change after 9/11, it was Saudi Arabia. 16 out of 19 terrorists involved in 9/11were Saudis. But what to speak of clamping down, the US probably did not even so much as warn the Saudis. It cannot intervene in internal, particularly religious matters. This is the message I got in a nutshell from both envoys of the Obama administration for outreach to Muslims, Farah Pandith and Rashad Hussain, with whom we interacted in separate meetings. Ditto for every other country.

    And perhaps that is as it should be. Government intervention might make matters worse, give the purveyors of Jahiliya in the name of Islam another stick to beat the world with. In any case this is war within Islam more than anything else. It is an attempt to colonise Muslim minds. It is Muslims who should fight it. It is for progressive Muslims, moderate ulema (religious scholars), to create a social movement that can reverse the growing tide of radical Wahhabism, so assiduously promoted by Saudis, no matter how Herculean the task may appear to be. -- Sultan Shahin, editor, New Age Islam

    Islamic Sharia Laws

    Debating Nikah-e-Halala, a direct consequence of Instant Triple Talaq, an obscene social practice allowed by Muslim Law in India
    By Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    "I felt totally numb and dead inside. But that was the only option left to reclaim my two sons, “she says.”Moreover, the Maulvi sahib had warned me that no one would participate in my funeral procession and my family would be ostracised if I flouted the Shari’a’s command. "  Jalal, Rubiya's "husband" for one night, was not particularly bothered about her turmoil. He was there for a purpose - to help his close friend salvage his marriage. A night after the Nikah and the mandatory consummation, he divorced Rubaiya without a fuss.  It has been seven years since Rubaiya got back with her first husband, but the horror of Halala has stayed on. "I feel as if the man I married died the day someone else defiled my body,” she declares with vehemence. Her only concern now is to ensure somehow that her sons never get to know about the humiliation their mother faced, for "it would shatter them, or worse, they may blame me for the episode". -- Excerpts from Manjari Mishra's report in The Times of India

    Islamic Culture

    United States Has Just Delivered a Big Slap in the Face of Wahhabi Cultural Terrorism
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
    New York: Opening new galleries for the fascinating Arts of Islamic Lands, New York’s Metropolitan Museum appears to have delivered a huge slap in the face of Wahhabi Cultural Terrorism. The ideological centre of Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia has been busy demolishing every vestige of Islamic culture and history in the Muslim land. The United States has just finished a decade-long effort to preserve Islamic Art and craft, architecture and history and created a space for all Muslims and non-Muslims to exult in the glory of Islamic Art. The contrast couldn’t be starker. ...

    During the past 50 years, says Ziauddin Sardar in an article “The struggle for Islam’s Soul” published in New Statesman on 18th July 2005, the holy cities of Mecca and Medina have suffered incalculable violence. More than 300 historical sites have been levelled systematically. Only a few historic buildings remain in Mecca – and these are about to be demolished. He quotes Sami Agnawi, Saudi expert on the Islamic architecture of the Holy City, as saying: “We are witnessing now the last few moments of the history of Mecca. Its layers of history are being bulldozed for a parking lot.” Agnawi, who has fought to conserve the historic sites of the Holy City, for more than 25 years, has no doubt what is largely to blame: Wahhabism, the dominant religious tradition of Saudi Arabia. “The Wahhabis,” he says, as reported by Sardar, “have not allowed preservation of old buildings, especially those related to the Prophet.” Why? Because other Muslims will relate to the history of the Prophet, and they will then see him as a man living in a particular time and space that placed particular demands on him and forced to act in particular ways. The Wahhabis want to universalise and externalise every act of the Prophet. For them, the context is not only irrelevant but dangerous. It has to be expunged, comments Sardar.

    Moving from room to room in these New York Metropolitan art galleries was like being transported instantly in both space and time, rejoicing in the exquisite beauty, splendour and brilliance of Islamic art created by Arab, Persian, Turkish, Indian artists. Conscious of the near-moribund state of Islamic inventiveness today, it was difficult to believe that Muslims, and indeed in many cases Arabs, had created so much beauty not very long ago. One room in the galleries was created by a Moroccan artist brought here and left for months to demonstrate his skills. So the Arab Art is not completely dead even today despite massive Saudi, Wahhabi efforts to delegitimize all quest for beauty and radiance.

    Nothing had put me in a better and more grateful frame of mind towards the United States in a long time as did the experience of walking through the Islamic Art galleries in the Metropolitan Art Museum here. But it also made sharper my consciousness of the inexplicability of American policy towards Saudi Arabia and the Taliban. It is fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan while continuing to protect the ideological fountainhead of these Jihadis that lies in Saudi Arabia. Even after 9/11 in which 16 of the 19 terrorists were Saudi and the rest three too had gone through Saudi educational curriculum, the US is continuing to allow Saudi Arabia to spend tens of billions of petro-dollars in exporting its dry, desiccated, narrow, desert version of Islam throughout the world including the United States itself.  Wherever, they had an opportunity, in Arab lands or Central and South Asia or Europe, Saudi Wahhabis have destroyed the rich cultural heritage of Islam.

    But this is no time for complaints. Let us just celebrate the richness of Islam’s artistic and cultural heritage that is being showcased now here in New York. Not being an art critic myself, I can do nothing better than let experts who put together this exhibition speak for themselves and explain how they managed to achieve the remarkable feat that these art galleries are. -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    The War Within Islam

    Urdu Daily Hindustan Express is Even More to Blame than Diamond Comics
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    One of the major concerns, if not obsessions of Indian ulema and Urdu journalists, expressed in the Urdu Press last few days, though now somewhat diluted in impact by the unfolding Osama story, has been “Blasphemy being perpetrated in India.” A case being used as an example is that of a publisher of comics books. Statements of ulema of all hues and columns by journalists have appeared everyday condemning this and asking for police intervention.

    Delhi’s Hindustan Express has been the most active in this campaign. In its zeal to denounce the publisher of these comic books the newspaper itself published images of the Prophet for which it was condemning the publication. None of the ulema have, however, condemned this Muslim newspaper for publishing the Prophet’s images, even if it did that as an example, for which they are after the Hindu publisher’s blood. Several have said that had this happened in a Muslim-majority country the publisher would have been by now killed.

    It must be noted that the recent death sentence to a Pakistani Christian woman Aasia Begum, that Indian ulema support as much as their Pakistani counterparts, was given without ascertaining what blasphemy, if any, she had actually perpetrated. The argument is that asking someone to repeat what she had said would be asking her or her accuser to perpetrate blasphemy again. So even without ascertaining if she had committed any blasphemy at all, Aasia Begum was senetenced to death and the ulema of the subcontinent support that. In fact they even support the killing of Pakistani Punjab governor Salman Taseer and the only Christian member of the Pakistani federal cabinet Shahbaz Bhatti, for showing sympathy for this hapless wronged woman.

    From that criterion, however, editor and publisher of Hindustan Express should be considered as much, if not more condemnable for publishing images of the Prophet (pbuh). While one can imagine the Hindu publisher of Diamond comics not being aware of the Muslim sensitivities involved, no such defence can be made of Urdu daily Hindustan express which is running a campaign against Diamond comics and itself doing the same thing, something that is truly abhorrent to any Muslim.

    Do I sound angry with Hindustan Express? Maybe I do, as I indeed am. Hindustan Express has forced me to look at Prophet Mohammad’s purported images that I never wanted to do. I have never and am never going to read Diamond comics. But I read Hindustan Express. There was no way I or any reader of the paper could have avoided looking at the images of what were supposed to be images of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), regardless of what context they were put in.

    Are we at New Age Islam asking for Hindustan Express editor and publisher’s head? No. we are too conscious our own failings and shortcomings and sinfulness to ask for anything remotely like that. Also, we truly believe that Islam is a religion of peace, compassion and forgiveness. But Our ulema, who are so fond of declaring people to be qabil-e-gardan-zadni (fit to get their heads severed from their body) should have by now called for the head (s) of the editor and publisher Hindustan Express Urdu daily. By not doing that and by calling for action against the publisher of diamond comics alone, they are clearly being communal. And that in New Age Islam dictionary is a bigger crime.

    The following are excerpts from an article by Perwez Suhaib Ahmad published in the Hindustan Express on 8 May 2011 (Translated from Urdu by Arman Neyazi, NewAgeIslam.com): -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    The War Within Islam

    Islamo-Fascism and Islam-Supremacism Feeding Islamophobia Worldwide: Sultan Shahin Tells UN Human Rights Council In Geneva
    Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    Madame President,... But xenophobia, particularly in the form of Islamophobia, is growing in several European countries and partly feeds upon the flagrant violation of the human rights of religious minorities in several Muslim-majority countries. Petrodollar Islam has injected the poison of Islam-supremacism in Muslim societies worldwide.  Even exemplary moderate countries like Indonesia, Malaysia are now infected with this virus. But the worst case scenario is evolving in the only Muslim nuclear power, Pakistan. Jihadi vigilantes including members of security forces are hunting down and killing all those who oppose their version of Islam. The country is drowning in a sea of violence but civil society, media or elected parliamentarians dare not condemn the wanton killings in the name of Islam. -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam, addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 16th session in Geneva on 22 March 2011 in the General Debate on Follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

    Islam,Terrorism and Jihad

    American Muslim Teachers in Indian Madrasas or CIA Agents and For What Purpose: The Latest Conspiracy Theory
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    The TwoCircles.Net article being posted below takes a disapproving look at the US proposal for appointing American teachers in Indian madrasas and smells a conspiracy in the proposal. It finds a similar conspiracy behind the recent Indian government proposal to appoint a central madrasa board to oversee reforms in the madrasa educational system. It summarizes views expressed in the Muslim Press and brings out the depth of Americophobia, Indophobia, self-righteousness and inordinate self-importance among Indian Muslims which is no less acute than among Pakistani Muslims. Like Pakistani journalists, Indian Muslim journalists too seem to know exactly what new conspiracies are brewing against them in the White House and CIA headquarters. This article also shows that President Obama’s outreach to world Muslim community through Farah Pandit and Rashad Hussain has been as much a failure in India as elsewhere.

    Not only that, this write-up also shows that Indian Muslims too like their Pakistani counterpart are in a state of Jihad against both the US and India. Any proposal that the US or even Indian government – which I would have thought is our own government - makes for the welfare of Indian Muslim community and its educational needs is seen as a conspiracy against Islam and Muslims. Their merits or otherwise are seldom discussed with any degree of objectivity. A case in point is the Indian government proposal to set up a Central Madrasa Board, purportedly to oversee and improve the functioning of madrasas and see that they produce somewhat productive citizens and not only zombies unfit to adapt to the needs of the world outside the madrasa. This is almost universally reviled as a conspiracy in the same way as the American proposal to send some American Muslim teachers for Indian madrasas.

    This does not mean that New Age Islam necessarily supports the idea of either a centrtal madrasa board or American teachers for Indian madrasas. While the former has a lot to recommend itself, the latter actually hit me as the most bizarre idea I had come across in a long time, something like somebody seeking to fit a jet engine in our bullock carts with their wooden wheels. But rejecting an idea, indeed smelling a conspiracy, simply because it is being proposed by America and being promoted by India, if it indeed is, seems to me like the height of paranoia which is going to do us no good.

    If America wants to create terrorists among the madrasa-educated in India, as the author of this article surmises along with practically the entire Muslim media in India, reflecting widespread belief in the Muslim community, it doesn’t need to plant teachers or CIA agents in the garb of teachers into Indian madrasas; it can simply utilise the brainwashing the madrasa-trained unemployables have already received which has convinced them that the world they live in does not matter in the least. They only need to be told that the easiest way to redemption is through a suicide belt that would help them reach “Heaven” instantly without committing any further sins in the world in the course of looking for jobs and trying to eke out a living in this vile world.

    The contempt for “other” Islamic sects and religions that has been already deeply instilled in their minds can always be utilised for inducing them to take the “others” also with them to the Hereafter. The army of suicide bombers in Pakistan has gone through the same books, the same education, the same brainwashing, that the ones in India have. No American teachers have induced them to become suicide bombers. The very idea that America wants to convert India’s madrasas to turn to terror is incredibly absurd, but this is what many of us believe, as does the author of this article. That Indian government also wants to help Americans in this venture to create mayhem in our own society is the absolute height of absurdity. But that we can believe in such nonsense tells us more about ourselves and the fate waiting for us than about Indian and American governments. – Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Interfaith Dialogue

    Role of Religions in Promoting Non-Violence: Islam’s Valuable Resources for Peacemaking
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Islam also puts great emphasis on Justice. And since seeking justice may sometimes call for violence, some people think Islam allows violence in its quest for justice. This is not true. Two examples from the Life of the Prophet should suffice. The first is the treaty of Hudaibiya that the Prophet signed on terms that all his companions found humiliating for what was by then a powerful community which had fended off several attacks and could be expected to do so again. Hudaibiya was not a just treaty they all thought. But the Prophet accepted that as this was the only way to peace. Another example is Muslims victory over Mecca. The Prophet announced a general amnesty after this. Justice demanded that war criminals be punished. But this would have probably created bad blood and possibly led to counter-violence. The Prophet again delinked Justice with Peace. The requirement of peace was paramount in his view.

    Following the Prophet’s example, in the last century, the great leader of the then united India’s northwest frontier province, which is now known as Pakistan’s province of Khyber-Pakhtunkwa, Badshah Khan devised a strategy that harmonised the demands of a quest for Justice with the interests of peace. He was inspired by the Mahatma and was his greatest, most unflinching ally. But he had worked out his strategy of non-violent struggle and started his unique movement before meeting him. He said he had learnt this from his study of Quran and Hadith. He found his nonviolent strategy in Islam’s call for an unrelenting struggle against injustice and the Prophet’s constant exhortation for patience and perseverance. He brought the two virtues together and thus was born his unique movement of non-violent resistance against British colonial rule. He told his 100,000 strong non-violent army of khudai khidmatgars (Servants of God):

    “I am going to give you such a weapon that police and the army will not be able to stand against it. It is the weapon of the Prophet, but you are not aware of it. That weapon is patience and righteousness. No power on earth can stand against it. …tell your brethren that there is an army of God and its weapon is patience….”

    Many scholars and peace activists who have studied the Khudai Khidmatgar movement in detail consider this as an Islamic model for non-violent struggle against injustice. -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam at a seminar organised by Al-Hakim Foundation and Himalayan Research during the UN Human Rights Council’s September 2010 session at Geneva.

    Islam and the West

    Peaceful Islam is genuine Islam, the mainstream Islam: Sultan Shahin tells the UNHRC
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Agenda Item 8, General Debate on Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

    Geneva: 24 September 2010: The 9th anniversary of the horror of 9/11 was observed recently in the midst of bitter controversies sparked by the proposed mosque near the ground zero site and the threats to burn the Quran. The debate surrounding these issues has further intensified the religious intolerance, and xenophobia facing the Muslim minorities in some quarters in the West today.  But I think, we Muslims too have not helped our cause by reacting with a wild and generalised condemnation of the West, using expressions like “sanctimonious arrogance of the West,” as the ambassador of an important Muslim country did in an informal meeting in this building a few days ago.

    There is only one way to both protect world peace and defend Muslims' rights: let the silent majority of peaceful Muslims assert their choice. Peaceful Islam is genuine Islam, the mainstream Islam, as I shall demonstrate, and if we are to oppose the regrettable anti Muslim hysteria triggered in some Western circles, it is our prime task, as Muslims, not to fuel these fears further.

    A phenomenal rise in Islamophobia now bordering on anti-Muslim frenzy in some quarters has alarmed the civil society in the West as much as in the Muslim communities around the world. From US President Barack Obama and other Western leader  to numerous social activists and media analysts have said repeatedly that the perpetrators of 9/11 were terrorists and the West is at war with the followers of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, not with Islam or Muslims in general. But the fear of Islam is nevertheless steadily growing, although the world has to fear not Islam, but those who distort Islam just to find something “holy” in their monstrous deeds. ….

    I would like to take this opportunity to urge fellow Muslims around the world to:

    a)      Declare repeatedly that Peaceful Islam is genuine Islam, the mainstream Islam. Denounce Osama bin Laden and A-Qaeda terrorists and ask our ulema (religious scholars) to declare these agents of Satan to be beyond the pale of Islam.

    b)      Loudly and repeatedly reject the jihadist ideology of Islam-supremacism as incompatible with the teachings of Islam. The Holy Quran asks us repeatedly to respect all previous prophets of God, all 124,000 of them, equally as Prophet Mohammad.

    c)      Stop blaming the entire West for provocations of a few right wingers who have a vested interest in fanning the fear of Islam, as they once had in promoting the fear of Catholicism or Judaism. Instead, appreciate those who are making admirable efforts to fight the growing Islamophobia and now even Quranophobia. 

    d)     Promote debate within the community to establish the Quranic ideal that even the killing of one innocent person amounts to killing the entire humanity and that the so-called offensive Jihad being propagated by some ulema is just not a part of Islam.

    e)      Declare repeatedly the situational nature of the verses that constitute the holy Quran and that instructions that came 1400 years ago for a specific situation are no longer relevant as injunctions from God to be followed in the here and now.

    f)       Fight our own victim mentality. Start taking responsibility for our actions.

    --- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    The War Within Islam
    I Fight Petrodollar Islam: Sultan Shahin
    Mohammad Wajihuddin talks to Sultan Shahin

    I Fight Petrodollar Islam: Sultan Shahin
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    In a tiny room in East Delhi’s Patparganj, a man spends most of his waking hours at his computer. This passion may be something he shares with millions, but Sultan Shahin is no ordinary web addict. Behind his constant surfing, writing and posting pieces on his website called newageislam.com is a steadfast purpose: to reclaim Islam from the clutches of jihadists and petrodollar-funded Salafist-Wahhabis. Shahin, who ideologically fights the religious right — the tyrannical Taliban and its sympathisers as well as the many Islamic supremacists who claim that Islam alone is Allah’s chosen path to paradise — is a spirited web warrior. “My fight is against petrodollar Islam,” he declares.

    “I am creating a forum that will lead us to the understanding of a pluralistic, inclusive, tolerant Islam.” And Islam, he adds, is not a new religion. “The Quran says this. It is a reiteration and revalidation of earlier religions,” he avers, seated at his study stacked with scholarly tomes, including several copies of the commentaries on the Quran. Anathema as this may be to fundamentalists, it’s won Shahin many followers. In the mere two years since the inception of newageislam.com, the website has 117,000 registered subscribers (subscription is free), claims its 60-year-old editor. Its daily newsletter, brought out by a skeletal staff of five, has carried debates on issues and personalities seldom talked about among mosque-going, visibly pious Muslims. So the Mumbai-based Muslim televangelist Dr Zakir Naik is slammed, not because he is allegedly funded by the petro-rich Saudi Sheikhs, but because he tries to establish the supremacy of Islam over all other religions. Niyaz Fatehpuri, a 20th-century Indian scholar and editor of Urdu periodical Nigaar, has become a much admired man on the website because of his rational, ingenious interpretation of Islamic principles. The website even follows the Urdu press, including Urdu dailies in Pakistan, and uploads the rational views in it, both in their original Urdu and English translations. ... Shahin later landed up in London as an editor of Asia Times, a weekly owned by one Arif Ali of Indian origin.

    A decade or so in England, he says, gave him great experience “as it exposed me to different strains of Islam and Muslims”. Like, once at a friend’s house in Nottingham, he heard a 20-year-old Muslim extolling the virtues of Ahle Hadees, a sect which propagates puritanical Islam. Shahin asked the boy the treatment he would prescribe for those Muslims who didn’t follow the Ahle Hadees sect. “Kill them,” said the young fanatic in a cold-blooded tone. “It really disturbed me.

    The boy had apparently been influenced by radical organisations like Al Muhajiroon and Hizb-ut-Tehrir. Thousands of young Muslims had been brainwashed by incendiary preacher Omar Bakri who commanded the following that saints do,” recalls Shahin. “I knew it would not take long before the fires of fanatic Islam reached the Indian subcontinent and consumed our youth."

    Islam and Human Rights

    Human Rights in Pakistan: Cultural and Ethnic Dimensions
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Pakistani state’s continued involvement in promoting acts of terror abroad, even if it is more an act of omission rather than commission, as it claims, has to be inevitably viewed with concern by all those who believe in the indivisibility of human rights. One cannot protect human rights in one country and allow their violation in another country. But this is a cause for even greater alarm for Muslims who see the goings on in Pakistan, as tarnishing the fair name of Islam, thus immensely fuelling Islamophobia around the world. It is no accident that Islamophobic political parties have begun to gain ground in several European countries in the aftermath of continuing massive human rights violations in some Muslim countries and by Muslim extremists even after 9/11. 

    Humanity in general, but Muslims in particular, have got to become very careful about how Islam is being projected by Muslims in the eyes of the world. Thus not only world organisation like the UN, but also Muslim Organisations like OIC must intervene and seek to impress upon offending Muslim countries like Pakistan to stop following domestic and foreign policies that sully the name of Islam. Suicide bombers trained in Pakistan are not only creating havoc in their own country, but also crossing land and seas to terrorise the world.

     It is strange that while the International community seizes upon the slightest violation of human rights in some countries to condemn them from all corners, it is quite reluctant to put pressure on Pakistan to change course. This is presumably because it is perceived as an ally in the ongoing war on terror. But it has to be understood that by its acts of omission and commission Pakistan is actually fuelling this war. It is not in Pakistani interest or at least in the interest of all-powerful Pakistan Army for this war to end. So those of us who are working towards creating a more peaceful world should take the issue much more seriously than we have done up to now. -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam, addressing a parallel seminar on Human Right Concerns in South Asia organised by Inter-Faith International during UN Human Rights Council’s June 2010 session at Geneva.

    Islam and Pluralism
    Kashmir: Kashmiriyat vs. Islamic Fanaticism
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Kashmir: Kashmiriyat vs. Islamic Fanaticism
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    … Hailing from this background, as Jammu and Kashmiris do, it seems strange that Pakistan thinks it will succeed in foisting on them leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani of Jamaat-e-Islami through the terrorist instrument of Hizbul Mujaheden who says that all Muslims must strive for and live in an Islamic state alone. The octogenarian leader of Kashmir’s separatist movement says: Our goal is azadi baraa-e-Islam (freedom for Islam).  Indeed in Geelani's perverse mind, Muslims can only live in an Islamic state. "It's as difficult for a Muslim to live in a non-Muslim society as it is for a fish to live in a desert," he wrote some time ago in his prison memoir Rudad-e-Qaf, thus stirring up a debate on Islam’s compatibility with other faiths.

    There are hundreds of millions of Muslims living in non-Muslim majority countries, in peace and prosperity. But Kashmiri leader’s words can only give solace to those in many of these countries who are seeking to foment Islamophobia.  Clearly if Muslims cannot co-exist with people of other faiths, then they would want to convert others to their faith or create trouble in some other way. This is clearly absurd and Muslims have no problem co-existing in multi-religious, plural societies. But Pakistan is prepared to go to any extent to extend its borders on either side. It is prepared to have and indeed succeeded for a time in having a Talibani state in its west to give itself what it called strategic depth. It also sees no harm in seeking to create another Talibani society on its east, and hope to control it in some way.

    Of course, it doesn’t matter to the strategists in Rawalpindi’s military headquarters what the impact of its support to Talibanism will be on the Muslim world at large or on Kashmiris. It says it supports self-determination for Kashmir. But what about self determination for the Kashmiris under its own occupation ? Or the Baluchis or Pashtoons or Sindhis, for that matter, who all deserve self-determination?

    Obviously Pakistan is hardly interested in self-determination for Kashmiris or any other people. This morally bankrupt state is playing another and a very dangerous game. …

    Let us hope that at least now the international community comes to realise that rather than helping it in the war on terror, Pakistan’s real agenda is to create Islamist radical states on both its eastern and western flanks. Let us beware that this policy of encouraging Islamic radicalism and exclusivism is also fuelling Islamophobia around the world.  As for Kashmiris, it wold be best for them to focus again on their Kashmiriyat, the gift of Sufis and Rishis, the mystics of the land. Kashmir is too diverse, too multicultural, a land, to imagine turning into a Talibanised state. Clearly Kashmiri people on the Indian side of the Line of control have by and large realised this already and turned away from Pakistan-inspired secessionism and Islamic fanaticism. In the last several elections at both state and central level, they participated enthusiastically and have had their own freely elected governments in the state ad representatives in the central cabinet as well. It is this trend that has probably unnerved Pakistani military strategists into restarting support for cross border terrorism after a brief lull. But hey are apparently finding it very difficult now that Kashmiris have had a taste of what lies on the other side of the border. -- Sultan Shahin, editor, New Age Islam, speaking in Geneva at a seminar on self-determination issues in South Asia, in side-event organized by Inter-Faith International during UN Human Rights Council’s June 2010 session.

    Radical Islamism and Jihad

    Mainstream Islam Should Be More Pro-Active In Combating Radical, Political Islam
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    It hardly needs to be emphasised that the biggest threat to peace in today’s world comes from the Taliban and their fellow-Islamic radicals operating in the Af-Pak region. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan are devastated by terrorists who call themselves Islamists and are perpetrating the most horrifying massacres of innocent civilians, even during prayers inside mosques. They claim to be establishing what they call “pure Islam”, by eliminating mainstream interpretations of Islam and minority sects whom they do not recognise as Muslim. These medieval obscurantists also use the excuse of western domination of Muslim lands to further their nefarious ends. They never explain, however, what have Western domination attempts got to do with their medieval terrorist actions like burning schools for girls and oppressing women and killing religious minorities in particular, terrorising and violating the human rights of people in that area in the most blatant manner possible.

    But even more worrisome is the fact that the world’s determination to confront these roguish elements appears to be flagging.  NATO countries seem to be losing interest in what looks like an endless war. … Also, a group of Taliban sympathisers appears to have grown recently not only in the civil society but also in the strategic community which seems to feel that not all Taliban are bad and that it is possible to make a deal with the good ones who are the majority of Taliban, thus providing a route to a safe exit, leaving the volatile region to its fate, as has been done several times before. 

    The frontline ally of the West in the war on terror, Pakistan and its Army in particular, clearly feel the same way with the difference that for them, the Taliban devastating Pakistani cities are the bad ones and should be fought while the Taliban fighting the West or their allies like Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, creating mayhem periodically in India are the good ones and should be left alone. There are sensible elements in Pakistan too who see the inhuman and suicidal nature of this policy. But the policy has by and large remained the same. Indeed, Pakistan Army has made several attempts to cut deals with the bad Pakistani Taliban too, only to face fresh subversion and terrorism from them once they used the breathing space to regroup. …

    There are many factors involved including strategic and tactical errors on the part of Western forces combating the Taliban. But the most glaring failure has been on the part of us mainstream Muslims in not evolving a redefinition of Islamic postulates that would have left no room for the radicals to misuse Islam and our holy book, the Quran, for their nefarious ends. We did keep saying that Islam is a religion of peace, but that clearly has not been enough. We probably took continued Western support for granted in putting down this inferno of hate and contempt for other religious groups caused by the ideology of Islam-supremacism. This ideology is far older than the Western quest for power and wealth in recent decades and centuries that Taliban sympathisers give us as the reason for radicalisation of Muslim groups.  …

    We the mainstream Muslims have no option but to take a more pro-active attitude in this existential struggle against radical, political Islam based on the ideology of Islam-supremacism. The West too would probably continue to help us in the war against the Taliban and other Jihadi terrorists, if they see that we are serious about this fight. We need to own this war as our war, as primarily it is a war within Islam; even the far larger number of dead bodies from the Muslim community testify to this.

    The ideological dimension of this war has been completely lost. After all, suicide bombers do not perpetrate their heinous acts just because they have been offered a few hundred thousand rupees. They have been brainwashed into believing that they need to kill all “infidels”.  Moreover, they have been told that those Muslims who are not engaged in fighting “the infidel” are the first and foremost enemies of Islam and need to be eliminated first and that the person who does that will be rewarded instantly with a place in heaven.

    This is no place to engage in theological debates, but I can assure the world through this august forum that there is no room for this kind of thinking in the Islam that Prophet Mohammad had left behind.

     However, by leaving the war to be fought only with military means and by Western victims of Jihadi terrorism alone, we the mainstream Muslims have left the field open for prejudices to be formed against all of us and our religion. I find it difficult to blame the average citizens of non-Muslim world who are fast developing Islamophobic tendencies. While there indeed are forces in the non-Muslim countries who are exploiting the situation to further their own vested interests, I feel that it is the total passivity of mainstream Islam, the nonchalance of the moderate Muslims that is largely to blame for this state of affairs.  I hope the time has not passed for us to do something about it and join the struggle in earnest. The war against Jihadi terror has to be fought and won by us Muslims on the ideological front, hopefully with continued military backing of the West.--- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam, speaking at the UN Human Rights Council’s Fourteenth session in Geneva on 15 June 2010.


    Islam and Pluralism

    Indian Pluralism, A Model of Successful Co-existence, Recent Challenges
    Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

    IN this post-9/11 world characterised by a burgeoning clash of civilisations, multiculturalism and tolerance of religious diversity is under threat practically everywhere in the world. It has virtually ceased to exist in large parts of South Asia. In Pakistan, for instance, a near civil war in raging among religious, sectarian, ethnic and linguistic groups. Poor Pakistanis don’t even feel secure to go to mosques to pray. How does India then thrive in relative peace in the midst of this chaos, despite having the second largest population in the world, an astounding variety of religions, cultures, ethnicities and languages and dialects? [Indian constitution, for instance, recognises 22 languages and the country is home to at least 844 major dialects.] This question has staggered political scientists and sociologists around the world in recent times. …......

     To understand this one has to go to the very roots of Indian way of life, our dharma, that is now known as Hindu religion but it was always a conglomeration of religions, philosophies, including atheism and agnosticism. Yes atheism was as much an integral part of Hindu dharma as was faith in one God or a multiplicity of gods or any particular deity which may have had a following in only one small locality. So one Hindu family could have had a couple of devout believers in one God or several gods or atheists or agnostics, all living together under the same roof, their beliefs causing no hindrance in their lives together. In different parts of India too there were different religions, different scriptures, and people from different parts used to travel carrying their beliefs with them and sharing them with one another.

    So when beliefs like Islam or Christianity or Judaism came from foreign lands, they hardly faced any problem in being accepted. In any case the Hindu or more correctly the Indian considered the whole world as a family, a kutumb.  One of the cardinal principles of Hindu philosophy was that there are many ways to the God and ultimately they all lead to the same divine truth. So while Islam’s encounter with some other religions was quite violent, Hinduism provided it with a fertile ground for growth. -- Sultan Shahin, editor, New Age Islam, speaking at Geneva in a United Nations informal seminar on multicultural experiences on 10 June, 2010.


    Sultan Shahin on Muslims and Islam: The Boy Said: “Kill Them, All Those Muslims Who Are Not Ahl-e-Hadees”
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam to Yoginder S

    It began back in the mid-80s, when I was staying at a Pakistani friend’s home in Nottingham in Britain. One day, I overheard the kids of this family conversing with a friend of theirs about Islam. This friend belonged to the Ahl-e Hadith sect, who are known for their stern literalism, being almost identical to the Saudi Wahhabis. This is a sect massively promoted by petrodollars and may even be termed Petrodollar Islam. I heard him telling the kids that the Ahl-e Hadith alone were true Muslims and that the other Muslims were not just really non-Muslims but that, in fact, they were the biggest and the first enemies of Islam. I asked him what he proposed to do with the “first and the foremost enemies of Islam,” that is something like 99 percent of Muslims who are not Ahl-e-Hadees. He said: “Kill them !!!” – Sultan Shahin tells Yoginder Sikand

    The War Within Islam

    Why Live In Kufristan? Go To Pakistan; It Was Created For The Likes Of You
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Quoting a press release of Majlis-e-Ahrar, Punjab, the Daily Sahafat, Delhi (18 May 2010) reports that Muslims are proud of the fact that, with the intervention of Majlis-e-Ahrar chief Maulana Amanullah and the Shahi Imam of Punjab Maulana Habeebur Rahman Saani Ludhianawi, they were able to raise their heads high in this Kufristan, the land of Kafirs. Ahrar volunteers raised the war cry of Allah-o-Akbar when the local administration removed the film shooting apparatus of a movie company that was trying to shoot a film “Tanu weds Manu” reportedly without any permission inside the premises of a mosque. [Urdu paper report published below]

    It is possible that, as reported, the movie-makers were doing something unauthorised. If so, local Muslims were right to protest and Majlis-e-Ahrar was right to come to their aid if the administration was reportedly not listening to them as there are few Muslims in Kapurthala. It is quite possible that the administration went into action only when they apprehended a law and order problem following the involvement of Majlis warriors. If true the administration should be taken to task by the higher authorities for allowing this unauthorised shooting to continue within the mosque premises despite the local Muslims’ protest.

    But the proud victory celebration in this “Kufristan” was amazing. As reported, this victory “not only stopped the shooting of the film but restored the prestige of the few Muslims who live in Kapurthala”, said Dr. Abdur Rasheed and other Muslims thanking the Shahi Imam of Punjab Maulana Habeebur Rahman Saani Ludhianawi and Majlis-e-Ahrar. They said: “we are proud of our lion-hearted leader whose courageous intervention raised our head high with pride in this Kufristan.”

    Clearly there are people in our community who are not happy living in what they call Kufristan, the land of infidels, even though the overwhelming majority of people in India are believers. But a believer for them is one who believes in their narrow interpretation of a religion that had come to this world as a blessing to the entire world. Not for them is the Quranic dictum lakum deenakim waleya deen (For you your religion and for me mine). The only Deen for them is the one they think they possess. There are no other deens in the world. God has sent to this world no prophets other than Prophet Mohammad (S) as far as they are concerned. It means nothing to these people that the Holy Quran has repeatedly demanded that we believe in all the prophets (1, 24, 000, according to one account,) as a part of our basic faith and give them equal respect as Prophet Mohammad (S) and treat their followers as Ahl-e-Kitab (People of the Book) and have close social interaction with them including establishing marital relations  Indeed even within that Deen, for them the only correct interpretation is the one they believe in. No one else has the right to interpret Islam according to his own light and live by it.

    These Kufristanis apparently believe they are living in the Mecca of Prophet Mohammad’s early years of prophethood. But if that is the case, should they not be following the policy of Prophet Mohammad in those days. Are they aware what horrendous atrocities the Prophet and his followers had to face day in and day out? And do they know what the Prophet and his followers did? They did not even raise a finger in their defence. So, if you believe you are a Muslim living in early seventh century pre-Hijri Kufristan of Mecca, behave like one. Don’t go to the administration protesting shooting of a movie in your masjid precincts. Be grateful for having a masjid in the first place. Muslims in Kufristan Mecca didn’t have a mosque at all.

    However, the question for us, the mainstream Muslims, to ponder is: do we want people like this living in our midst? Can we live peacefully in this multi-cultural, multi-religious Darul Aman with some in our midst treating it as Darul Harb? Would the confrontationist behaviour of these people not embroil us all in a conflict with other people in our multi-religious, multi-cultural society? How would people from other religions distinguish between mainstream Muslims and these Kufristanis? How would they know this Muslim is a HIndustani and this one is a Kufristani? Is it not time we asked the few Kufristanis among us to leave us and migrate to the land that was specifically created for them? Obviously when Pakistan was created it was clear that it would not be able to accommodate all Indian Muslims. So who was it created for? Apparently the founders of Pakistan, whether they were Muslims or Hindus, must have thought this new country will be a haven for those who were uncomfortable living among Kafirs and want to live among the “pure.” How come we still have people among us who consider this land Kufristan? What are they doing here? What is there motive in living in our midst? How come they are allowed to run major warrior organisations, mosques and newspapers?

    A popular Dawn columnist Nadeem F. Paracha writes in a recent column: “A few weeks ago I got an email from a reader about a Pakistani in the US who (on Facebook) accused me of being a “Zionist-backed agent of secularism”. When someone asked the gentleman that, if he hated the US so much why was he living there, he conveniently (and without any hint of irony) claimed that his mission was to convert (to Islam) as many Christians and Jews in the US as possible.” Now, is it possible that these Kufristanis are living in India with a similar motive? After all, Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat-ul-Ulema did not support the creation of Pakistan with a similar motivation.

     But can we mainstream Muslims, who are proud of and happy living in multi-religious India, allow these Kufristanis to live in our midst? Should we not ask them to leave for the “land of the pure,” where there would be no Kafirs (they have been practically weeded out), only Shias and Sunnis, Deobandis and Barelvis, Salafis and Ahl-e-Hadeesis and, of course, Ahmedias, both the Lahoris and the Qadianis?

    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Spiritual Meditations

    Sultan Shahin: A Life Positive Magazine Profile: The Universe Is A Manifestation Of The One Universal Consciousness
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Transformation: Sultan Shahin believes that there is a logical progression in the history of religion. He gives an example: "While Islam is absolutely monist, people wonder why the Quran rarely gives arguments in support of that standpoint. The reason is that God had already taught that through Vedanta and yoga. So, the Quran is specific that you cannot be a good Muslim unless you respect the earlier prophets of whom there were 1,24,000." Shahin extends the argument to assert that the New Age has synthesized the knowledge from various spiritual traditions as well as science. The bottom-line: there is only universal consciousness; the universe is a manifestation of that: and we are all spirit beings. -- Praveen Chopra in Life Positive monthly magazine, June 1997

    Muslims and Islamophobia

    Growing Islamophobia: Missing Introspection: Do We Muslims Too Owe Some Responsibility? And What Can We Do About It? Sultan Shahin Asks Muslim Delegates to UNHRC
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, NewAgeIslam.com

    Editor, NewAgeIslam.com, Sultan Shahin's oral statement to the current Thirteenth session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 16 March, 2010:


    I would like to confine myself to reflecting on the problems of religious minorities, particularly Muslim minorities who are facing xenophobia and related forms of intolerance today in an atmosphere of widespread Islamophobia. We Muslims are also complaining of an attempt to encourage Islamophobia. The French ban on veils and Swiss ban on minarets has further vitiated the atmosphere. We do not know for sure how much of this is deliberate as a sort of anti-Islam crusade as we Muslims allege and how much is a paranoid reaction to growing radicalism, extremism and exclusivism in Islamic societies.


    But I find a note of introspection on the part of us Muslims and Muslim governments completely missing in the continuing debate. I intend to do precisely that today. While we Muslims demand, and rightly so, the freedom to freely practise and propagate our religion in the non-Muslim majority countries, we do not seem to worry about the plight of religious minorities living in Muslim-majority lands.


    Contribution of Petrodollar Islam

    That Muslim societies in general have radicalised over the last decades cannot be denied. This has been a direct result of tens of billions of petrodollars having been spent in promoting a rigid, obscurantist, desiccated version of Islam, shorn of all its beauty and bounty. Preachers of what I can only call “petrodollar Islam” have gone around the world asking Muslims to develop a separate identity that distinguishes them not only in the practice of Islamic prayer rituals but also looks and apparel. The phenomenal rise in Muslim women wearing hijab and an assortment of veils or men growing what is called an Islamic beard is no accident.

    Discrimination against religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries has grown. Anti-blasphemy laws, for instance, have been routinely used to harass and commit acts of violence against religious minorities. The Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir, mentioned the case of Christians and the minority Muslim sect of Ahmadis who are continually harassed on baseless allegations of blasphemy in Pakistan despite the government’s stated commitment to fulfil its international obligations. -- Sultan Shahin

    The War Within Islam
    India’s Composite Culture: Emerging Threats
    Sultan Shahin, Editor New Age Islam

    India’s Composite Culture: Emerging Threats
    Sultan Shahin, Editor New Age Islam

    What Muslims Need To Do To Neutralise Them

    ... Mainstream Islam is still mainstream. These exclusivist and warring sections are still small, though with the infusion of massive money power they have grown quite aggressive lately.

    But if we want to contribute to the safeguarding of India’s composite culture, we will have to take the bull by its horns. Time for dilly-dallying is long past. We will have to go back to our roots, our Quranic roots, our philosophical roots, our greatest saints and their teachings.

    WE will have to once again inculcate the broadmindedness of our saints, the generosity and forgiveness, the attitude of gratitude that was the hallmark of our prophet. It has now become a question of safeguarding not only our religion and our composite culture but also our children, our youth from being whisked away to Jihadi camps and active and sleeper cells. The very least we can do to safeguard our own youth as much as India’s composite culture is to explain the following to our community loudly and repeatedly:

    1. That we are not a chosen people; Islam-supremacism is nonsense and that the ummah of all prophets are equal in the eyes of God who will judge them according to their own faith, not ours. It is nonsense to believe that only Muslims will go to Heaven.

    2. That the Holy Quran is not a book that was revealed in one sitting. The war verses in the Quran were meant for wars being fought then and do not apply to situations today. These verses were revealed to the prophet as guidance for the situations he found himself in. As those situations cannot be replicated today, that particular course of action is no longer applicable to us. This is important to defeat the Jihadis who are using these verses as weapons of war to brainwash our youth and turn them into human bombs.

    3. That Islam is not the exclusivist religion that the Petrodollar Islam is preaching. It is a religion of co-existence encapsulated in the verse lakum deenakum waleya deen (For you be your religion and for me mine). It is also the religion of La Ikraha fid Deen (There can be no compulsion in religion.)

    4. That the Sufi saints who brought Islam to this sub-continent and to the entire South-East Asia are not, God forbid, religious deviants as Petrodollar Islam proclaims them to be. It is because of them that we are Muslim today. It is they who gave us access to the teachings of Islam. It is not wrong for Muslims to show reverence to them along with people belonging to other communities.

    5. That Islam itself teaches us Ijtihad, rethinking, so that we can adjust to the newer realities of changing times. We have to rethink every postulate of Islam in the light of today’s realities.

    6. That religious freedom is indivisible. If we as a minority community need freedom, it becomes our duty to also fight for the religious freedom of minorities in Muslim lands, particularly in the Indian sub-continent. It is shameful that when two Sikhs were recently beheaded in Peshawar, reportedly for refusing to convert to Islam under compulsion, our ulema remained completely silent. We have been completely unmindful of the plight of religious minorities in both Pakistan and Bangladesh while enjoying full citizenship rights in our country. This must change.

    Let us pray that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s doctrine of Wahdat-e-Deen once again gains converts. Let us try to flesh out and translate into reality Swami Vivekamad’s vision quoted before: “I see in my mind’s eye the future perfect India rising out of this chaos and strife, glorious and invincible, with Vedanta brain and Islam body.” In order to be ready to become a part of the Vivekanad project, however, the Islam body will have to rid itself of the many viruses it is harbouring in its system today. -- Sultan Shahin

    Islam and Pluralism

    Religious Freedom Is Indivisible: Muslims Should Seek it in Islamic Societies Too
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    The Swiss ban on minarets is having an echo in India. Abdul Sami Bubere of the Mumbai- based Sahyog Cultural Society is reported to have said: “The extremely provocative decision undermines the freedom of religion and principle of co- existence. The referendum is akin to tyranny of the majority. It will only encourage fundamentalism. The ban should be immediately lifted as it would serve the purpose of jihadis who misinterpret Islam.”

    Though I won’t use such strong words, I fully agree with the sentiments and thoughts expressed in the above sentiment. The analysis that “it will only encourage fundamentalism” is also correct. It is actually happening. The fundamentalists are taking advantage of the situation created by the Swiss ban on minarets and the French ban on burqas (veils).  But then the question arises in my mind, how come we get agitated only when our own religious freedom is at stake in non-Muslim societies. We do not worry when Muslims themselves, not to speak of non-Muslims, are not allowed religious freedom in Islamic societies.

    We were permitted to defend ourselves with arms (a form of Jihad, albeit a lesser form) because if we had not done so, people may not have been able to worship in temples, monasteries, churches, synagogues, etc., all those places of worship were God is remembered and God’s praises are sung.

    Renowned Pakistani scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamidi writes: “The Qur’ān asserts that if the use of force would not have been allowed in such cases, the disruption and disorder caused by insurgent nations could have reached the extent that the places of worship – where the Almighty is kept in constant remembrance – would have become deserted and forsaken, not to mention the disruption of the society itself:

    وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُمْ بِبَعْضٍ لَهُدِّمَتْ صَوَامِعُ وَبِيَعٌ وَصَلَوَاتٌ وَمَسَاجِدُ يُذْكَرُ فِيهَا اسْمُ اللَّهِ كَثِيرًا (٤٠:٢٢)

    And had it not been that Allah checks one set of people with another, the monasteries and churches, the synagogues and the mosques, in which His praise is abundantly celebrated would have been utterly destroyed. (22:40) ...

    Not only that. We have scholars who claim that while non-Muslims have perfect freedom to practice their religion in an Islamic state, (though in practice they are not mostly allowed that freedom), Muslims do not have that freedom. Once born to a Muslim parent, you are doomed for ever to be a Muslim or else. Well, your throat will be slit, no less. Indeed, there are “revered” ulema (scholars of Islam) in various schools of thought who say that if someone is seen so much as not attending Friday prayers, his throat should be slit.

    Sample the following:

    Those who do not attend Friday prayers “should simply be killed. Slit their throats!”: Deoband  

    “A person greatly admires Hazrat Maulana Rashid Gangohi, the outstanding scholar who was one of the founders of the Deoband madrasa. The gentleman to whom I refer is a kindly soul, who can be depended upon for help by others. However, when in the course of conversation I chanced to remark that the most basic virtue lay in kindness towards others, he contradicted me. Kindness, he contended, was reserved for “pious, practicing Muslims”. As for others, they should be given a chance to mend their ways, after which “they would be Wajibul Qatal (liable to be killed)”. Another person I chanced to meet — a finance man, no less — feels that people who do not attend Friday prayers “should simply be killed. Slit their throats!”

    “Now, this kind of sanguinary verbal ferocity is very different from the traditions of quiet piety and gentle acceptance in which most Muslims were brought up.” -- Salman Tarik Kureshi


    also, sample the following from a supposedly enlightened scholar of Islam:

    “Freedom is a neutral word. Accordingly, affixing it with religion would mean a liberty of a  person either to have or not to have a religion, either to practice or not to practise, either to propagate or not to propagate, either to embrace or not to embrace, either to change or not change one’s own religion. If he decides to do so he has the freedom to do it without any interference of others. This is the meaning of freedom as it appeared in the above examples.

    “Is a Muslim allowed to enjoy such freedom? As a matter of fact, under Shariah law, a Muslim is not free to do so, no matter whether he is under Muslim rule or non-Muslim rule except with dire necessity. In fact the meaning of Islam itself, that is submission and surrender to the will of Almighty Allah (swt), is inimical to the vague meaning of freedom (cf.hurriah) in its absolute sense. Thus, a Muslim cannot enjoy freedom in respect of articles of belief (Iman) and practicing of pillars of Islam, (arkan al Islam) and observance of codes of life, because, these are essential of keep him a believer and a Muslim. He may enjoy a guided freedom with regards to those matters that do not fall under the basic and obligatory tenets and pillars of region.” – Freedom Of Religion in Shariah by Dr. ABM Mahboobul Islam of the International Islamic University of Malaysia....

    I hope Mr. Abdul Sami Bubere of the Mumbai- based Sahyog Cultural Society and other people who are bothered about the Swiss ban on minarets or the French ban on burqa or India’s Hindu Right demanding the abolition of Muslim Personal Law will also express their disgust, if they feel it, over the lack of religious freedoms to non-Muslims and more so Muslims in so-called Islamic societies. So-called Islamic scholars go to great lengths to prove that Quranic dictates like “La Ikraha fid Deen” (There can be no compulsion in religion) or Lakum Deenakum waleya Deen (For you your religion and for me mine) have no meaning and relevance for the Muslims today and should be banished from our consciousness. Shame on such scholars!!!

    Until we start fighting for religious freedom in our own societies (of both Muslims and non-Muslims), our struggle for religious freedom in non-Muslim societies will be rightly treated as just an instance of Muslim hypocrisy. -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    The War Within Islam

    Why Should Any Muslim Object To Pranab Mukherjee Attending An Ahmadiya Convention?
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    New Age Islam has received a press release from some organisation called Shariath Protection Council based in Chennai that says, inter alia: ... “But if the Hon’ble Minister (the Union Finance Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee) intends to interact with Qadianis, taking them to be Muslims, then it is incumbent on the Council to correct his wrong assumption and to make known that, his participation in the said Convention, despite their protests, will wound the sentiments of Muslims, as a result of which Muslims will cease to take his Party as their ally.”

    I would have thought that we Indian Muslims are not Pakistanis and that we have not declared Ahmadis non-Muslim. In our view anyone is a Muslim who says la ilaha illallah Muhammadur rasoolullah (There is no god other than the one God and Muhammad is his prophet) and Ahmadis do that. Indeed, I had the personal experience of seeing their love for Prophet Mohammad and belief in his finality as a law-bearing prophet when I spent a few years in Suriname, South America where the majority of Muslims are Ahmadis. They differentiate between law-bearing prophets and people who are renewers of Islam (mujaddedeen) coming every new century or so and who are inspired by God to say things that they didn’t know they had in themselves.

    Yes, some Ahmadis do call Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani Saheb a prophet, albeit a non-law-bearing prophet below the status of law-bearing prophets like Muhammad, Jesus, Moses, Buddha, Ram or Krishna, etc. We have our differences with them and of course, the majority of mainstream Muslims do not agree with them. Indeed many Ahmadis, the so-called Lahori group of Ahmadis, led by as great a scholar of Islam as Maulana Mohammad Ali, too do not agree with them and merely consider Mirza Saheb a mujaddid (renewer of Islam). Indeed if we go by the logic of Ahmadis we would have to consider not only Mirza Saheb but also people like Ghalib, Iqbal, Shakespeare, Keats, Einstein, etc. as prophets. These people were indubitably inspired to say things that they did not know the source of. They only knew that they did not know the things they said in a clearly altered state of mind – in some cases like that of Ghalib, for instance, an altered state of mind produced by the influence of liquor. Similarly, some of them consider Mirza Saheb a reincarnation of Jesus Christ who is supposed to come back at the end of history. I am sure many Qadianis themselves consider this rather absurd.

    Yet, come to think of it, the difference is minor and more terminological. With Lahori group of Ahmadis, of course, there should be no difference at all. There have been several mujaddids in Islam and all of us do not have to go by their interpretations. We can just ignore them. After all, the main source of Islam is the Holy Quran and all Muslim sects abide by that, though there may be differences in interpretations. The difference with Ahmadis has turned into a deep and seemingly unbridgeable chasm. It happened like this. The Mullahs who had opposed the creation of Pakistan wanted a place for themselves in the politics of Pakistan once it got created. They latched on to the issue of a section of Ahmadis considering Mirza Saheb a prophet of sorts for the revival of their own political fortunes. They started riots against Ahmadis. The political leaders of so-called moderate, mainstream Muslims did not have the gumption to oppose their murderous activities. And finally decades later an ‘enlightened’ Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the then Prime Minister, succumbed to fundamentalist pressure and in the hope of gaining some political mileage with the ‘Islamist” marauders, at a very difficult time when he was engaged in a battle for political survival, declared the group non-Muslim. But it is important to remember that before Bhutto, who was executed by Islamists for being a murderer declared them non-Muslim under their pressure, the Ahmadis were a bona fide group of Muslims even in Pakistan, as, of course, they are in other parts of the world.

    I have always thought that we Indian Muslims, benefiting as we do from the composite spiritual ambience of multi-religious, multi-cultural India, are a different breed of Muslims than our brothers who have the misfortune to live in ‘Islamist’ Pakistan. But then come along statements like the one quoted above and it becomes clear that there are some among us who would have preferred to live in the spiritual disaster that is called Pakistan. They too would have probably liked to blow themselves up for the sake of bombing other Muslims praying in mosques around the country on account of minor ideological differences.

    That a top leader of the Congress party is attending an Ahmadi convention is good news. We mainstream Muslims, both Sunnis and Shias have ideological differences not only with Ahmadis but also with every other Muslim. Every Muslim Mullah considers every Muslims other than his own followers a Kafir. Kafir-manufacturing factories are the most productive in the Muslim world. Indeed Muslims do not have any other manufacture worth the name. No two Mullahs agree on the definition of a Muslim. Ask Justice Munir of Pakistan who investigated the bloody anti-Ahmadia riots in Pakistan of the 1950s:

    Backgrounder: The Mullah and the Munir Report




    For Deobandis and other Wahhabis even a Muslim who doesn’t show up for a Friday prayer should have his throat slit. Should non-Muslim Indian politicians then stop meeting Muslims who do not go for Friday prayers?

    Why should this sickness of the Muslim community stop a non-Muslim political leader interact with Muslims whose views on the issues of the moment are most logical, suited to the times and in harmony with the spirit of Islam, even if we have some theological differences with them? Mirza Saheb interpreted Islam a century ago. Our Mullahs go by the interpretation given several hundred years ago or even a thousand years ago or more. Why should some of us threaten Pranab Mukherjee with the entire Muslim community not taking “his party as an ally” after this? This is totally absurd and irresponsible. What is this Shariath Protection Council that is bent upon the destruction of our syncretic Islam here in India? Or how representative of the Muslim community is Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam of Punjab, that I understand, is also running a campaign against Mr. Mukherjee’s visit? Who are the people behind this? What gives them the right to speak on behalf of the entire Indian Muslim community?

    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    The War Within Islam

    Jamiat-ul-Ulema Knows It Cannot Push Muslim Women Back Into Burqas
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Cover up operation

    It is natural for many to feel that the latest pronouncements from Deoband will push women further inside their dark holes. It will take the community back five centuries. But rather than arousing such fears, the panicky ranting of maulanas gives me hope. It would appear that they have heard the news. Muslim women are on the move. They are revolting even in the tiniest of towns.

    Making use of the Islamic provision of choice given to them in the Koran, an increasing number of Muslim girls are refusing to marry boys of their parents' choice. They are even contemplating and a few succeeding, with sometimes fatal consequences, in eloping with boys of their choice. In many cases parents and the society at large has to accept their choices. In some cases the girls are even contemplating elopement with boys of other faiths. ...

    I asked one girl who was planning to elope with a Hindu boy, if she was aware that, being a Hindu her friend was ahl-e-Kitab, and she could marry him even under the provisions of Islamic Sharia. This girl of a UP town of just 2 lakh was knowledgeable enough to tell me that was not the case. Only Muslim boys can marry ahl-e-Kitab girls under the Islamic provision.

    I told her that this provision had been made at a time when girls couldn't stand on their own; but now you are an earning professional and will be able to fight for your right to follow the religion of your choice, so how would that Islamic provision apply to you today. She said she had never heard such "rational nonsense" and that the only way out for her was to elope and hope that she or her husband doesn't get killed by their relatives. In her view even a loving invitation for reception to celebrate their marriage could prove fatal, so she won't fall for it.

    The ulema are clearly rattled. This couldn't be happening. But it is.


    -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Spiritual Meditations
    Babri Masjid: Opportunity for Muslims
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Babri Masjid: Opportunity for Muslims
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Muslims have gone through a traumatic period in the last several years. They have spent a lot of time in introspection. They have shown great wisdom and maturity in fending off severe and very brazen provocations. One hopes that it is this maturity that is now beginning to be reflected....

    This brings me to my main plea—forgiveness. Forgiveness is the essence of both the Muslim and Hindu spiritual traditions. It is the only way out of the vicious and very debilitating grip of bad karma. It is our belief that one has to always pay individual or collective karmic debts in this or any subsequent incarnations or on the Day of Judgement. Both Hindu and Muslim spiritual traditions consider God as the greatest teacher, this world a great school, the events that involve us in this mayajaal (illusionary world) as messages.

    What could this Great Teacher be teaching us in this section of the school through the great Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi drama? Perhaps the all-important lesson of forgiveness. It may take us years, decades, centuries or millennia to learn this lesson. But learn we will. There is no escaping. God is a very determined teacher. We have the option to learn the lesson now. Let us exercise it.

    Islam,Terrorism and Jihad
    Taliban: The battle for Pakistan
    Sultan Shahin, Editor New Age Islam

    Taliban: The battle for Pakistan
    Sultan Shahin, Editor New Age Islam

    Secular cowardice is not a new phenomenon in Pakistan. The founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, had said on August 11, 1947, in the constituent assembly of Pakistan in Karachi: 'You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the state.' But as Pakistan's renowned columnist Ardeshir Cowasjee recalls: 'Deliverance into the hands of the theocrats came a mere six months after the death of Jinnah, the delivery made by the man who had succeeded him as the leader of his nation. The Objectives Resolution was adopted on March 12, 1949 by the constituent assembly of Pakistan, proposed by the Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan. It clearly and unambiguously declared that religion had much to do with the business of the state. There could be no recovery, as history has proven over the past 60 years.'

    No one should forget the swiftness with which the Afghan Taliban rose in the 1990s to capture Kandahar and Kabul in one fell swoop. Surely the Taliban are not going to stop at Islamabad. Conquering Pakistan is only the first step in their Long War aims. While Israel and America are going to be their main long-term targets, the first country to bear the brunt will be India. Already there are reports of over a hundred Taliban fighters having infiltrated into the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. This also speaks of collusion between the Taliban and elements in the Pakistan Army. And this is what makes the American strategy for containing Taliban flawed. For they want to use the same Pakistan Army to fight the Taliban. If he could have relied on the army, former president and army chief General Musharraf would have succeeded, at least to some extent, in turning the country around in the direction of what he called 'enlightened moderation.' -- Sultan Shahin

    The War Within Islam
    Changing Muslim Psyche: Allah Hafiz vs. Khuda Hafiz
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Changing Muslim Psyche: Allah Hafiz vs. Khuda Hafiz
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Ask them to feel grateful to God that you are not living in Pakistan where your mother would be asking you to pray at home and not go to mosques for fear of being blown up by suicide bombers; ask them to feel grateful that you are living in the only non-Muslim majority country in the world which allows you to organise your personal life in accordance with Muslim Personal Law; that your constitution guarantees you equal status; that no party can come to power at the Centre which has not got your votes: and you are immediately branded a Hindu agent.

    This is the condition of a community whose religion exhorts it to live with an attitude of gratitude even in the direst of circumstances, to start every prayer with Al-Hamd (Praising God). God's bounties are so many and so great that we will not finish recounting them even if we spend an entire lifetime doing that.

    Islam-supremacism, contempt for other religions, are our mantras. We forget that our scriptures ask us to revere equally as Prophet Mohammad all the 124,000 prophets that preceded him in all parts of the world. This is an essential requirement for the Islamic faith.

    Inner spirituality has been sucked out of our religion with the onset of Wahhabism in a big way. Under US protection, Saudi Arabia is spending tens of billions of dollars for the last 35 years in spreading a desiccated, arid, desert version of Islam, devoid of all spiritual values. The Islam to which we had been introduced in the sub-continent by our saints is dead and gone. People may still visit Sufi shrines, but the inclusiveness that it entailed is no longer there. -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Islam and Spiritualism
    What Do Our Inter-Religious Conflicts Teach Us?
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    What Do Our Inter-Religious Conflicts Teach Us?
    Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

    Discovering Patterns of Unity in diversity leads to Intellectual as well as Spiritual growth

    We squander a large part of our national energy, that could  have been  expended  more  fruitfully in pursuit  of  more  worthwhile goals,   in   inter-religious  conflicts. This is not a   new development, not for India, not for the world at large.  Humanity has been involved in conflicts of this nature since ancient times. But why do such conflicts take place at all, if religions, all religions, teach us to believe in the oneness of the universe, brotherhood of man and so on? This is perhaps  because we  have  made  our  religions a part of  our  egos,  indeed  our negative  egos. This is a tragedy. For all religions teach us to go beyond our egos. Try to kill your egos, or suppress them, but do transcend them -- is the universal religious message.

    It  is  time  we  in  India, both  Hindus  and  Muslims,  try  to understand  our religions and follow them rather than just  fight over  one  religion’s  superiority over another.  We Muslims, in particular, suffer from an unwarranted superiority complex that keeps us from coming to terms with other religious communities. -- SULTAN SHAHIN, Editor, New Age Islam

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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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