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Books and Documents

Chapter 14: Islam A Challenge to Religion

Under all such failures there is a greater one: the failure of man, the most social of all the higher animals and by far the most intelligent, to provide himself with anything, even remotely described as good government. He has made many attempts in that direction, some of them very ingenious and others sublimely heroic, but they have always come to grief in the execution. The reason surely is not occult; it is to be found in the abysmal difference between what Government is in theory and what it is in fact. In theory it is simply a device for supplying a variable series of common needs, and the men constituting it (as all ranks of them are so fond of saying) are only public servants; but in fact, its main purpose is not service at all, but exploitations. The same is the case with other religious, both in the East and the West. It is in fact fertile to seek in religion the laws of God for standard of absolute right and wrong. Religion itself is man-made. In these, circumstances, the modern man, a frustrated, helpless pitiable soul, had perforce to seek objective standards outside the field of religion. -- Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez

 

“It’s a great irony that [Israel] was more secure as an idea than it’s ever been as a nation with an army,’’ concludes Cohen, as he ends his narrative perched on a Jerusalem hillside mulling Israel’s prospects for survival. His absorbing, clear-eyed history of the nation will likely leave readers pondering those odds as well, and knowing more deeply what’s at stake. -- Bill Beuttler

 

Prescription against Partition: injections of theocracy to immunise the country from more 1971-itis. Taking this medicine took Pakistan’s already fragile psyche into a spooky space. Namely, “the dilemma of choosing between rival interpretations of the dominant religion…and deciding which receive state support”. Through the 1970s and 1980s a succession of Pakistani leaders began making the country overtly Sunni. As Shaikh stresses, “the idea of making Pakistan an Islamic state began with the politicians not the ulama”. Another trauma, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and its consequences, brought the mullahs to the fore. Elite groups like the military who tried to use these radical clerics for their own purposes fell sway to the latter’s stronger vision. -- Farzana Shaikh

 

Chapter 13: Islam A Challenge to Religion

The blessing of Allah comprises those advantages that the individual enjoys which have not been gained through his own effort, namely his innate capacities, education and other opportunities. In gratitude for those gifts, he should use his wealth to help those who are less fortunate than himself. He should regard his wealth as the gift of God and his gratitude to God should be expressed in acts of beneficence. We should all live as member of a single family, and we are really that, being so to say, "God’s children." The father does not discriminate between his children. He loves them all alike. God, as the Quran says, is Rabbul-Alamin (1:1). He takes care of every living being in the world. The philosophy developed during the last decade was foreshadowed by the Quran a long time ago. A necessary consequence of this view is that the means of production should not be owned by any one person or group but should be held in common by all. The Quran throws valuable light on this point as will be shown in the next section. -- Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez

Through his own journey, the reader gets an account of the politics and trials and tribulations of Partition. For example, what was the ensuing situation in Delhi when the author migrated? What did his Hindu acquaintances and friends make of the developments? What difficulties he and his family faced on reaching Pakistan? How was Jinnah regarded in the different provinces of Pakistan, particularly in the NWFP where he dismissed the elected government of Khan Sahib? The first five chapters are personal memories and the description of the political developments is a historical awakening. In the remaining four chapters, the author candidly analyses the key developments during the years of Ayub, Bhutto, Zia, Benazir, Nawaz Sharif and Musharraf. Except for Musharraf, who was a Mohajir, all of them had an anti-Mohajir mindset. The author also saw how Jinnah tactfully changed his position and took resort to Islam to keep Pakistan’s various ethnicities together. However, being a supporter of Jinnah, the author stops short of directly criticising him but quotes several of his friends to indirectly criticise Jinnah. -- Arvind Gupta

 

Ahmadinejad, Iran’s Lalu Prasad?

You can even compare some of the political leaders of the two countries. President Ahmadinejad, the son of a blacksmith, comes from the underclass and still lives in a lower-middle class neighbourhood. “His style,” writes Majd, “the bad suits, the cheap Windbreaker, the shoddy shoes, and the unstylish haircut, a style he proudly maintains well into his presidency is a signal to the working class that he is still one of them.” He drives no limousine but a Peugeot, and delivers his speeches in pedestrian Persian, the kind that is spoken on the streets and is understood by all. Inasmuch, he is not a far cry from the Lalu Prasad brand of politician, who won election after election riding on his carefully cultivated rustic appeal, or even Mamata Banerjee, the railway minister who still lives in a lower middle class neighbourhood and drives to Parliament in a Maruti Zen. -- Saif Shahin

Chapter 12: Islam A Challenge to Religion

In the West, during the last decade the idea of a welfare state has appealed to many thinking men. The welfare state, like the Quranic society, is intended to provide for the basic needs of citizen. Such a state, however, still remains as an ideal, attainable perhaps but not as yet realised. Even if it is set up, will its members have sufficient incentive to work when they already have all they need? The Quranic society, like the ideal welfare state, seeks to place man above care and want but unlike the welfare state, it does not weaken but rather stimulates the incentive to work. It inculcates in man that the only ideal worthy of him is the full development of all his latent powers and that he can realise this ideal only through the disinterested service of mankind. He has to give and not to take. He must work, not for himself but for others. He is fired with the ambition to work hard for the enrichment of the life of all men, because it is only in this way that he can realise himself. This urge is so great that economic security does not impair the incentive to work. It is true that bread is the staff of life, but it is equally true that man does not live by bread alone. Both his physical needs and his higher aspirations must be satisfied if he is to enjoy real happiness. -- Ghulam Ahmad Parwez

 

9/11 still excites our imagination of jihadis and their joyless world. Journalists living and working out of Pakistan and Afghanistan paint a bleak, gloomy picture

It was Benazir versus Nawaz for two decades before Gen Musharraf added himself to the mix. Razvi’s description of the dictator-President is sympathetic, showing Gen Musharraf as a man who tried hard to change the system, change himself, even change the military-civilian equation, and utterly failed at all three. He may now face a trial for treason, certainly, the last hasn’t been heard from Pakistan’s former President just yet. With indications that Gen Musharraf may (re)turn to Pakistani politics once the moratorium on his entry expires (two years since he gave up the uniform) in November, this book has a renewed relevance. -- Suhasini Haidar

 

 

Chapter 11: Islam A Challenge to Religion

There is at least one marked distinction in the way of development of the self from that of the body. The body grows by taking and assimilating nutrient substances from the environment. The more nourishment it gets, the better is its growth. Paradoxically, the self grows not by receiving but by giving. Generosity promotes its growth and meanness checks it. The more the self gives of its riches, the richer it grows. If this basic truth is clearly perceived, men will rush to the help of those in need. Pride in possession will give place to joy in munificence. They will think more of what they can give than of what they can keep for themselves. The acquisitive instinct will be weakened and the impulse to give will gain strength. The Quran extols men who put the interests of others above their own: “They prefer others before themselves although there be indigence among them; and whosoever is preserved from the covetousness of his own soul, these shall prosper”(59: 9). -- Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez

 

 

 
SALVATION by Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez
Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez

Chapter 9: Islam A Challenge to Religion

The Buddhist, Christian and Hindu doctrines of salvation have a great deal in common. In each, the emphasis is upon liberation from sin, upon rescue from evil. In each, the objective is a return to the previous state of innocence and bliss. As sin is supposed to be inseparable from life and the phenomenal world is believed to be the abode of evil, it follows that liberation can be achieved only by renouncing the world. Moreover, in the Quran, the emphasis is on the positive content of salvation. It is not conceived as a negation of pain and liberation from evil. It consists in the sense of fulfilment, the feeling of realisation and the thrill of expansion. Man is endowed with a number of potentialities. By developing these he reaches his full stature and qualifies for still higher stages awaiting him. Man must discover in what direction his self can develop and then he must create the conditions, physical as well as social, which favour the development. His main task in this life is to develop his self by conquering the forces of nature and employing them for the development of mankind. ­­-- Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez

 

Chapter 10: Islam A Challenge to Religion

The Quran emphatically asserts that death is not the final end but a gateway to a different kind of life: We mete out death among you.... that we may transfigure you and make you what you know not. And verily you know the first creation. Why then do we not reflect? (56: 61-63)  The real self, not being a part of the body is not subject to physical laws. It is dependent on the body for functioning in the physical world, but it may continue to exist after the destruction of the body, its instrument: And they say, what! When we have become bones and dust shall we indeed be raised up a new creation. Say thou: Be ye stones or iron or a substance still more improbable in your hearts (to be restored to life). But they will say: Who shall bring us back? Say thou: He who brought you into being for the first time (17: 49-51). -- Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez

 

 

A story that covers six Muslim families in a Tamil Nadu village

This is a story that covers six Muslim families in a village in Tamil Nadu and moves along chapter by untitled chapter, revolving around the lives of Rabia and a few other Muslim girls over a period of one year. The novel has drawn deeply from Salma's own childhood in a village near Tiruchi. Here the plot is subordinated to capturing the postures of the community she is writing about. This of course is the pre-Babri Masjid demolition period and so you do not find signs of a revivalist Islamic community. In any case, Salma does not touch the issues concerning Muslims in Tamil Nadu. Among her cast of characters there are non-Muslims such as Mariyayi, dalit mistress of Karim, through whom the author highlights the Tamil Muslim attitude to caste and women. -- S. THEODORE BASKARAN

 

Chapter 8: Islam A Challenge to Religion

The Law of Requital works unerringly. There is a necessary connection between acts and their effects. Good actions are necessarily rewarded and wrong actions are invariably punished. In social life, however, the connection between a socially approved act and its reward is external and contingent. Let us illustrate this point. A man undertakes to perform a job on the understanding that he will be paid an agreed sum of money on its completion. He may do the work but may not get the reward. His employer may die, become insolvent or prove faithless. On the other hand, the connection between moral actions and their effects is internal and necessary. The effect is on the personality of the doer. If the effect is good, the doer is carried forward towards his goal of self-realisation; if it is bad he is necessarily thrown back. Every moral act works consequential changes in the human personality. These changes may be in the direction of greater integration or of disruption. They may or may not be conducive to "spiritual" health. The requirements of "spiritual" health are different from those of physical health. Suppose a man somehow finds himself in possession of a sum of money and spends it to buy butter and eggs. His health will improve on this nourishing diet. Whether he had honestly earned the money or had stolen it, makes no difference to the effect on his health. But his "spiritual" health is a different matter. It will suffer if the money had been stolen, even if he has put it to a good use. We have, therefore, to distinguish between the physical effects of our actions and their moral effects. The Law of Requital, in the moral sphere, refers exclusively to the moral effects, to the enhancement or deterioration of the human personality. ---  Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez

 

Chapter 6: Islam A Challenge to Religion

We say that the Moral Law has a real existence, that there is such a thing as absolute Morality, that there is something absolutely true or false in ethical judgements, whether we or any number of human beings at any given time actually think so or not. Such a belief is distinctly implied to what we mean by Morality. The idea of such an unconditional objectively valid Moral Law, or ideal undoubtedly exists as a psychological fact. The question before us is whether it is capable of theoretical justification. We must then face the question where such an ideal exists, and what manner of existence, we are to attribute to it. Certainly, it is to be found, wholly and completely, in no individual human consciousness. Men actually think differently about moral questions and there is no empirical reason for supposing that they will ever do otherwise. Where then and how does the moral ideal really exist? -- Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez

 

Chapter 7: Islam A Challenge to Religion

At every moment in his life, man faces a number of possibilities, every one of which is "taqdir," in the terminology of the Quran. His freedom is limited only to the number of possibilities open to him. He is free to choose any one of them but he cannot go out of their range. He cannot, himself, enlarge the range of possibilities. He enjoys freedom within the prescribed range but not outside it. On this view, the apparent contradiction between the freedom with which man is credited and the destiny to which he is supposed to be subject disappears. Destiny must not be understood in the sense that each and every act of man is predetermined and preordained. The Quran does not lend support to the belief that what man becomes—a saint or a villain—does not depend on his free choice but on the decrees of an impersonal inexorable Fate. In the Quran’s scale, destiny is not synonymous with necessity (or fatality, as they generally call it); it only denotes the range and reach of his capacities. It indicates in what directions he can go. How far he can go is determined by his destiny; how far he will go depends on himself alone. God does not dictate to man what objective he should have; He just gives him the helping hand in his efforts to attain the goal he has set for himself. Iqbal has expressed this relationship in a poem of exquisite beauty. -- Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez

 

Chapter 5: Islam A Challenge to Religion

The Qur'an appeals to reason. Its professed aim is to make men rational and clear sighted, not to make them superstitious. The Qur'an directs man's attention to the phenomena of nature and the facts of history, as they reveal the power of God and His wisdom. Man is invited to look at and reflect upon the grandeur of the heavens, the beauty of the earth, the freshness of dawn, the glory of sunset and the terrifying force of the wind as it sweeps over the open spaces of the desert. Pointedly, it asks: "Are not these marvellous? What more do you want? "The phenomena of nature, at once beautiful and mysterious, can fully gratify man's sense of wonder. However, the people with whom the Nabi of Islam had to deal were steeped in superstition. They were obsessed with the craving for the miraculous. They not only believed that the laws of nature could be violated but regarded such a violation as the only proof that could be offered for the truth of a statement. Instead of scrutinizing the rational grounds of the statement and accepting it if adequate evidence was adduced in its favour, they asked whether the man who made it could work wonders or not. It was not easy to deal with and win over people whose attitude to truth was so irrational. -- Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez

Chapter 4: Islam A Challenge to Religion

According to the view set forth in the Qur'an, man is born neither good nor bad, but with the power and freedom to become either. He is endowed with immerse potentialities. If he develops them and employs them for the moral and material advancement of mankind, his conduct is good; if he fails to utilize his immense resources or puts them to uses which are harmful to mankind, his conduct is bad. Wahi or Divine Guidance points out the way to self-realization and to the promotion of knowledge and happiness. By following the path which is pointed out by Wahi, man can finally achieve the status of a "mo’min". A "mo’min" is at peace with himself and with the world because he has successfully resolved his inner and outer conflicts. Wahi shows the way to harmony in the individual mind as well as in human society. The verses cited above to the effect that man is bad, simply mean that if he ignores Divine Guidance and follows his baser desires he is liable to become worse, and worse. -- Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez

 

“What have we done to democracy?” asks Roy. “What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasised into something dangerous? Could it be that democracy, the sacred answer to our short- term hopes and prayers, the protector of our individual freedoms and nurturer of our avaricious dreams, will turn out to be the endgame for the human race?” Roy, of course, doesn’t talk of a return to authoritarianism. She X- rays the symbiotic relationship between democratic governance, the growth of fascism and the free market, and exposes how they all feed off one another.

The ascent of the “fascist BJP” began around the same time as economic liberalisation, the book points out. Today, the Sangh Parivar’s biggest project is “Hinduising” Dalits and Adivasis, and pitting them against each other and against the minorities and Maoists. This has been visible in the way Dalits and Adivasis were unleashed on Muslims in Gujarat, the killings of Christians in Orissa, and in the creation of the anti- Maoist Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh, Roy argues. -- Saif Shahin

 

For Islam the locus of value is the individual self and not society. Self-development of individual man is of supreme importance. Everything else must be subordinated to this end. The Qur'an aims at the production of free and good men, and such men spontaneously and of their own accord, will share their possessions with their fellow beings. A society composed of such men will be free from the evils of luxury in one class and poverty in the other. A powerful incentive to generosity and selfless service of others is provided by the belief in the Hereafter. The man who believes in the Hereafter will naturally attach far greater importance to the values that he can carry over to a higher plane than to the material goods which he will have to leave behind when he dies. Goth has expressed the idea beautifully thus: That man is dead even in this life who has no belief in another.18 The process of the development of human personality, the Qur'anic economic order and the life hereafter will all be discussed further in subsequent chapters. -- Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez

 

Obviously, Islam fulfils all the requirements of Deen. Islam, as Iqbal puts it, "is neither dogma, nor priesthood, nor ritual."8 It is much more than any of these or all of these. It is the vivid sense of God's directive force and unflinching working of His laws. It is absolute iman in God's wisdom and His purpose. It is hearty participation in the upward progressive trend and movement of life and the world viewed as the expression of God's creative force. Islam stands for life-fulfilment and rejects life-denial as unworthy of man. It commands us to face facts and not to shrink from them and take refuge in fantasy, and requires us to control and harness natural forces for achieving our ends. Asceticism, quietism and monasticism are all repugnant to Islam. Islam lays stress oil social life and on its value for man, and does not regard the body as an evil and as an impediment to "spiritual" progress. It wants man to respect the rights of the body as well as the rights of the self. For this reason, Islam does not approve of self-abnegation and self-mortification. There is nothing mysterious in it and it has no place for mysticism. It aims at the establishment of a social order based on permanent values in which all its members act as free agents striving for a higher and noble cause of making man’s abode on this earth more beautiful, and making him fit for further evolutionary stages of life.

    Islam, as a living force, will continue to play a vital role in the moral uplift and social, cultural and political unification of mankind. It will continue to make valuable contributions to the knowledge and culture of mankind. Above all, it will continue to enrich the "spiritual" 9 life of man and thus strengthen and elevate his self or his personality. -- Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez

Religion can be traced back to the dawn of human civilization. The caverns of primitive men, wherein dead bodies were laid with a provision of food and weapons, suggest beliefs and practices which are unmistakably religious in character. It would seem that no sooner had man attained the stage of mental development, represented by self-consciousness, and started on the road to civilization, than his breathless wonder at the world around him gave way to speculation on his origin and destiny and on the power which created the world and sustains it. His thinking took the form of myth-making and his tools of thought were not concepts but symbols. He felt vaguely but intensely an infinite power at work in the world around him. This dimly-sensed power evoked in him the responses of fear and reverence, or worship. The urge to worship appears to have always been there, but man can worship only that which he believes to be both good and powerful, because of his own helplessness. Primitive man was slowly and painfully groping his way to the idea of religion. He was seeking, with his scanty resources, for an object which he could appease or revere and worship. No doubt, he worshipped crude objects or simple natural phenomena, but we must not forget that for him they only symbolized the supreme power at work in the universe. -- Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez

The first few chapters of this work comprise a historical discussion of the concepts of God and religion. It should not be taken for a, discussion of deen; nor is it an attempt to compare Islam with other religions and establish its superiority over them. From the observations made earlier in this Introduction, it should be clear that a comparison between Islam and the existing religions is out of question. Islam is a deen, or a way of life, which can be compared only with another way of life, and not with any religion, for religion as such, has nothing at all to do with the problems of human life on earth. This explains why the Qur’an does not present Islam as a rival to any religions. On the other hand, it asserts that this deen (system of life) shall ultimately prevail over all the man-made systems (9: 33). I would, therefore, entreat you, kind reader, not to treat this work as a book of religion; it should be studied only from one point of view and that is: whether or not the way of life that it expounds offers a solution to the grave difficulties and problems with which mankind is faced at present.

Today, all thoughtful men are disgusted both with materialism as well as religion (madhhab), for neither of these offers a way out of humanity's present predicaments. The only solution is through the deen that is expounded in the following pages. -- Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez

Malik claims this was a calculated move by Khomeini – then facing the ignominy of withdrawal from the war in Iraq – to subvert reformist voices within Iran and gain political ground across the Muslim world. “The fatwa sowed confusion and division among supporters of the Saudi regime,” writes Malik. “A number of militants who had taken part in the Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union and who had been within Riyadh’s orbit now pledged allegiance to Tehran… The reformers were forced to denounce Rushdie.”
The fatwa also turned Islam into a domestic issue for the West. Malik, who was born in India but grew up marching along anti-racism rallies in 1980s Britain, explains how it was these progressive rallies that made the ground fertile for the seed of the fatwa to grow into the cactus of Islamism. -- Saif Shahin

Moral progress in history can be said not to depend so much in the improvement of the moral code as in the widening of the area wherein that code is accepted, though through wider acceptance a certain standardized improvement does take place. Take for example sexual morality how has it changed over centuries. Among the North Americans the young men and women mated [34] freely. Among the Papuans of New Guinea pre-marital promiscuity was the rule, commonly practised and commonly accepted. Similar sexual liberties were pre­valent amongst the Igorols of the Philippines, the natives of upper Burma, the Kaffirs and Bushmen of Africa, the tithes of the Niger and Uganda, Tahiti and Polynesia.

Chastity is a late phenomenon. The primitive [35] tribes held virginity with contempt - it was held to be a barrier to marriage. Some scholars hold that virginity came to be prized when the agricultural landlord began to consider women also as a part of his property. I hold the view that the shift in the moral code came with the religious ideologies. Both the Pharaoh and Hammu-Rabi law made adultery punishable and the sanctity of the marriage bond received religious sanction later. The gradual wide acceptance of or indifference to, the post war wave of permissiveness is a throw back to the primitive heritage and show, not the lowering of the standard, but negatives the necessity of any standard even of the natural law, due to the weakening of the religious moral link. The view of the moral law as a law of nature was adopted by the Christian thinkers hesitatingly and reluctantly in spite of what St. Tho­mas Aquinas [36] (1225-1274) taught… Masarrat Husain Zuberi

The Criminals of Islam by Dr. Shabbir Ahmed
By Shabbir Ahmed M.D., author, social acivist
The Criminals of Islam by Dr. Shabbir Ahmed
By Shabbir Ahmed M.D.

The Criminals of Islam by Dr. Shabbir Ahmed is probably the most challenging book you will ever read. It took courage to write this book and it will take courage to read it. It will give you an extraordinary stimulus to think and reflect. According to Dr. A. N. Whitehead, “Our inherited beliefs are entrenched in our psyche and emotions like idols. The shaking or breaking of these idols is no less a calamity in whatever form they exist.” Therefore, this book is recommended only for the open-minded reader with considerable moral courage.

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