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Books and Documents

Books and Documents

Imagining Pakistan as an Islamic State
Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed
Imagining Pakistan as an Islamic State
Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed

In the liberal-Marxist intellectual environment in which I received my political grooming in the Lahore of the late 1960s, the standard view was that the Muslim League, especially its supreme leader, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, wanted a separate state for the Muslim nation to escape exploitation at the hands of the Hindu moneylenders....

 

Editor's note: This is a brief but fascinating biography of prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaih-e-wassallum) from Qur'anic sources alone. Published in 2009, 'Essential Message Of Islam' By Muhammad Yunus & Ashfaque Ullah Syed is a seminal work about which Distinguished Islamic scholar and Professor of Law, UCLA Law School. Prof. Khaled Abou El Fadl, wrote: " Indeed this book manages to translate the Muslim vision or the way that Islam heals the ailments of humanity in the current age and every age. Readers who wish to learn the theological and moral dogma of Islam will find this book indispensable."

 For me, this chapter telling the story of the Prophet from Qur'anic sources alone, without using ahadees and other usual sources with debatable credibility.  Classical biography of the prophet Muhammad (may God’s blessing and peace and be upon him) is largely based on the manuscript of Ibn Ishaq (d. 151 ah/ 768 ce) compiled about 125 years after the prophet’s death and published by Ibn Hisham (d. 218/834) around the close of the second century of Islam. This work is based on the oral accounts that were in circulation during that era and were inevitably embellished by fanciful speculations and gross exaggerations down the generations to project the prophet as a legendary figure. As a result its accuracy as a historical record is questionable.

The Qur'an, however, is preserved verbatim since the prophet’s era down the generations by an unbroken chain of huffaz. As the huffaz in the prophet’s era were the first hand witnesses to what they memorized, the text they preserved over time is as good as eye witness account of the events of the prophet’s era. In other words, the authenticity of Qur'anic records is above debate. 

In this chapter, Muhammad Yunus and Ashfaque ullah Syed have attempted to construct a summary account of the prophetic mission by connecting   Qur'anic verses with the major events of the prophetic mission as recorded in the annals of history. Hence their work offers a fist hand account of the key events of the prophetic mission and is free from the conjectures, embellishments and imageries that characterize the classical biography.

A doctrine of taqlid (blind conformity with the works of past scholars) and absence of any textual scrutiny or scientific investigation of ancient works, and the exclusion of the Qur'an from any historical research had delayed any attempt at Qur'an-focused exercise as the present work represents. It should be closely read by all those who want to know the noble character of the prophet, his trials and tribulations and the truly defensive nature of the battles he fought. ---  Editor

Correct the focus. The US must take a firm stand to ensure that the Wahhabi philosophy does not get propagated disproportionately in Muslim countries around the world particularly in Pakistan. The US must ensure that the philosophy of Sufism is given the share of voice that it deserves as the belief system of the majority....

 

Veteran foreign correspondent Patrick Cockburn (65), who has reported from the Middle East since 1979, has three full-length books on Iraq already to his credit. This monograph on the rise of the ultra-jihadist Islamic State builds on his reportage for The Independent and long-form writing for the London Review of Books....

 

Madrasas controlled by militant Pakistani groups who work for al Qaeda continue to function freely. One of the largest extremist groups in the country, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, has members who have helped al Qaeda. It now operates under a new name and has even changed the look of its largest Madrasas complex to become a model it can show to the Western press....

 

“By Allah’s grace no other official, semi-official or non-official institution of Pakistan has been so attached and devoted to Islam in thought and action as the armed forces of Pakistan....

 
Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Heretic’
Susan Dominus
Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Heretic’
Susan Dominus

Hirsi Ali has strong thoughts on what form that change should take for Muslims: a major overhaul of their religion. “Without fundamental alterations to some of Islam’s core concepts,” she says, “we shall not solve the burning and increasingly global problem of political violence carried out in the name of religion....

The Sufi Islamic traditions evolved over history with a degree of interaction with Hinduism on the sub-continent. It is a school that includes philosophers and mystics. Sufism embraces the Koran and most of Shia and Sunni Islam's beliefs. Sufis believe that Sufi teachings are the essence of every religion, and indeed of the evolution of humanity as a whole….

 

The book is comprised of four chapters; the first presents an analytical critique of this elitist current. El-Sharif explains that Islamic feminism searches in religious texts, the Quran, the Prohet's sayings and in Islamic Fiqh(jurisprudence) with the purpose of presenting new readings and interpretations of some matters regarding women....

 

Religious minorities like Hindus and Christians also complain of discrimination and have periodically been subjected to violent attacks by extremists. The extremist violence is beginning to impact intra-Sunni factions such as the Deobandis and Barelvis. This may also be a result of the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) policy of divide and rule in the Sindh....

 

In the sixteenth century during the Mughal emperor Akbar’s time the curriculum in Indian Madrasas blended the teachings of Islam and Hinduism. Hindu and Muslim students would together study the Quran (in Arabic), the Sufi poetry of Sa’adi (in Persian), and the philosophy of Vedanta (in Sanskrit), as well as ethics, astronomy, medicine, logic, history and the natural sciences....

 

While reiterating that Hizbullah transformed itself from ‘an exclusivist Islamist Jihadi movement working outside the Lebanese state into a more inclusive political party within the Lebanese system’ from the mid-1980s....

 

Barren sandy desert, extremely hot climate, and scarcity of water resources made the heartland of the Arabian Peninsula an inhospitable abode for man since ancient times. Its original people were pagans, except for some Unitarians (Ahnaf) who contemplated on the Oneness of God. In the post Judeo-Christian era, pockets of wet fertile land attracted Jewish and Christian settlers from the adjoining regions, and became isolated centres of trade and commerce. However, the vast stretches of the desert heartland that only sustained a nomadic life, remained in a primitive state until the advent of Islam.....

Related Articles:

Introducing the Book 'Essential Message of Islam' by Muhammad Yunus & Ashfaque Ullah Syed

Preface and Contents of the Book 'Essential Message of Islam' by Muhammad Yunus & Ashfaque Ullah Syed

Why Islam Needs a Reformation
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Why Islam Needs a Reformation
Ayaan Hirsi Ali

It is not just al Qaeda and Islamic State that show the violent face of Islamic faith and practice. It is Pakistan, where any statement critical of the Prophet or Islam is labelled as blasphemy and punishable by death. It is Saudi Arabia, where churches and synagogues are outlawed and where beheadings are a legitimate form of punishment. It is Iran, where stoning is an acceptable punishment and homosexuals are hanged for their “crime.”…

The Ottomans had lost wars before, but never the empire itself. This time it was different. The demands imposed by the Allies provoked a revolt by Mustafa Kemal, the hero of Gallipoli, who pushed the Greeks and Italians out of Anatolia, deposed the sultan and abolished the caliphate. ....

 

After 1970, Turkey was rocked by a series of socio-economic shifts. Urbanization that had been ongoing for decades accelerated throughout the 1980s, prompted largely by an economic restructuring plan recommended by the IMF after the military coup d’état of 1980….

 

PREFACE: The Arabic Qur’an: For Muslims the world over the Qur’an is the infallible Word of God - a divine litany of unparalleled beauty and grandeur. They read, recite and memorize the Qur’an – partly or even wholly, to please God, to experience the transcendent, and to seek peace and tranquillity. However, they seldom make any attempt to study the Qur’an to comprehend its message. There is a tradition that “one who discusses about the Book of God, (the Qur'an) makes a mistake, even if he is correct.”1

The non-Muslim scholars of Arabic in the Christian West also acknowledge the extra-ordinary literary merit of the Qur’an,2 but they often find its contents confusing and even alienating. Even secular Arab Muslims reading the Qur’an out of context may find it very challenging. This is due to some unique features of its text as summarily illustrated below.

The Qur’an engages a wide range of subjects and themes, which, barring a few exceptions, appear repeatedly either in their entirety, or in bits and pieces across the text, without any apparent order or organization. Thus, diverse themes may be interwoven in the same paragraph without any logical order.3

The Qur’an is an oratorical discourse with God as the speaker. However, God’s mode of address shifts from first person singular and plural forms (I and We) to third person singular: He, Your Lord, al-Rahman(the Benevolent). It also constantly switches between its addressees: thus, a passage may open with an address to the Prophet, but the subsequent verses may be addressed to his followers, the People of the Book (Christians and Jews), the pagans, the disbelievers who persistently denied the revelation, and humankind in general.4

The language and style of the Qur’an also changes abruptly. Sometimes it is very clear and precise, sometimes it is condensed and elliptic, and sometimes it is highly context–specific. Besides, some of the Qur’anic passages, especially those from an early period of the revelation have a cosmic perspective, and are deeply mysterious, while others evoke God’s transcendence and are profoundly mystical. There are many evocative passages in the Qur’an where “what is left unsaid is as important as what is said,”5 and the reader is left wondering what the Qur’an really means by such and such example or pronouncement.6

Moreover, the Qur’an evolves the various elements of its broader message in stages, and therefore, reading any passage in isolation can be highly misleading.

Thus, the Arabic Qur’an can be very challenging and can even disorient and misguide a casual reader, not aware of its subtleties, nuances and various contexts. However, the Qur’an leaves sufficient clues for the reader to help comprehending its guidance and broader message......

Related Article:

Introducing the Book 'Essential Message of Islam' by Muhammad Yunus & Ashfaque Ullah Syed

 
Review of 'Confessions of a Terrorist – A Novel'
Review of 'Confessions of a Terrorist – A Novel'
By Anita McKone for New Age Islam

Reliable factual information gathered by terrorism expert and author Professor Richard Jackson is set within a simple but compelling fiction: Michael, a British intelligence officer, and Professor Youssef Said, a Middle Eastern terrorist organiser, face each other across a table in a rundown building in Leeds, UK....

 

Editor's Note: New Age Islam is happy to be able to present for the first time on internet this ground-breaking work by Quran exegetes Muhammad Yunus & Ashfaque Ullah Syed for the benefit of its readers. The authors hardly need any introduction on this website. Muhammad Yunus Saheb has been contributing for long and we have posted Ashfaque Ullah Syed Saheb's individual contribution too in the form of his televised lecture. Presented below is the introduction to the book written by the renowned academic and author Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl:

For those who have the moral will, the book I introduce here will prove to be an invaluable reference source on the Islamic faith.  For those who do not wish to be participants in the perpetuation of religious bigotry and hate, this book will provide an accurate, thoughtful, and reliable introduction to Muslim beliefs and practices.  I wish we lived in a world in which this book would become a standard reference source for students of religion who are interested in an accurate introduction to the religion of Islam.  The best thing I can say about this book is that it is the product of a labor of love that lasted for more than a decade.  The authors do not offer a personalized view of their own religiosity; they explain in a very straightforward and accessible fashion what mainstream Muslims believe in and especially, what the Qur’an itself teaches.  Non-Muslims will understand why well over a billion people call themselves Muslim and also how Islam inspires Muslims to deal with and improve upon the world in which they live.  Indeed this book manages to translate the Muslim vision or the way that Islam heals the ailments of humanity in the current age and every age.  Readers who wish to learn the theological and moral dogma of Islam will find this book indispensable.  But this book is not just an informative tool for the fair-minded and interested reader.  This book is an educational tool for both Muslims and non-Muslims—it is an authoritatively reliable text to teach young Muslims, or even Muslims who never had the time to study the Qur’an, or the fundamentals of their religion.  The book is written with the kind of balance and fair mindedness that makes it equally valuable for Muslim and non-Muslim students of Islam.  The least I can say about this text is that it was written by two ethically conscientious and principled Muslims in order to share their religion with every ethically conscientious and principled reader in the world.  They must be heard.

Today, whenever we talk about a group of young Muslim men travelling across borders and fulfilling a religious responsibility, the discourse is about fighting what is popularly referred to as jihad, culminating in grotesque violence in the name of religion. And, whenever we talk about the caliphate--of which the Ottoman was the last, abolished in 1924-- the discourse is about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), known for its atrocities in West Asia, proclaiming its re-establishment....

Book Review: Rumi (Sufi Comics)
Roshan, New Age Islam

Rumi’s magnum opus is the Masnavi-e Manavi (“Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning”), a vast collection of mystically-inspired poems. It is considered to be among the gems of world literature, and has been translated into numerous languages. It focuses on instructing disciples on the Sufi path how to reach their goal....

His numerous books helped set the philosophical agenda for atheism for half a century or so, until when, around the age of 80, just a few years before his death, he declared that he was wrong all along about God. No one expected this from one of the world’s leading champions of atheism, not least Flew himself. “[I]t may well be that no one is as surprised as I am that my exploration of the Divine has after all these years turned from denial to discovery,”….

One theme that emerged again and again, one not portrayed in the wider media, was that of mercy and compassion. This idea of Rahma (mercy) is at the centre of the Islamic experience. The fundamental nature of Allah is mercy. As one of the contributors (Mohammad Hassan Khalil) said, the “idea of Rahma frames the Qur’an.”  That sense of divine mercy overcoming all else came up again and again as a quality of God, as a divine attribute that we as humans are to emulate. Within the Muslim community it lends a strong concern for social justice and externally ones’ dealings with those outside the Ummah. If the Quran is a vehicle, mercy is the chassis…..

 
Understanding Islamism through History
Talmiz Ahmad
Understanding Islamism through History
Talmiz Ahmad

Islamism is the movement that seeks to achieve a reformed political order that is founded on a reconciliation of Islamic principles and those of modern political theory, such as constitution, parties, elections, representative government, human rights, freedom, justice, and social and economic welfare. It emerged, not in the 1920s as Mr Owen says, but in the early 19th century, in response to the total defeat suffered by the Arabs at the hands of the western colonialists……

 

My mother is so liberal she makes me look Republican. I was shocked when she said, "You know those people wouldn't cross the road to piss on you if you were on fire." (In addition to being liberal, she's also Southern.) I couldn't believe my civil rights-loving, ERA-supporting, Bill-Clinton-was-the-victim-of-a-vast-right-wing-conspiracy-believing mother was siding with my boyfriend's NRA-supporting, Ronald Reagan-worshipping, Knight Templar-pretender of a father…..

 


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