Books and Documents
Despite all this, she has been subjected to the insult of being perceived as “the enemy within”, and finds herself wondering whether the UK will still be a home for her grandchildren. It is this personal stake that gives her forthright and intelligent book its sense of urgency. By tackling the “Muslim problem” head on...
She first quotes Iqbal (whose suggestion that elected Parliament should be able to complement Ulema’s work and exercise Ijtihad appears shockingly modernist).“The law revealed by the Prophet takes special notice of the habits, ways and peculiarities of the people to whom he is specifically sent. The sharia values [ahkam] are in a sense specific to that people; and since their observance is not an end in itself they cannot be strictly enforced in the case of future generations....
individuals, religions, when they become institutions, can, as the title of
this book says, go ‘astray’, deviating far from their purpose. They do this,
the authors say, when, for instance, they are interpreted to promote
monopolistic claims to truth, when they are marshalled to foment conflict and
engage in violence against people who behave and believe differently and when
they are invoked to seek to justify gender injustice. Hence, the authors
stress, they ‘need to be called back’—...
protagonists of this fascinating piece of work are a terribly marginalised
Piro—a low-caste Muslim prostitute in nineteenth-century Punjab—and her Guru
Gulabdas, a cult-figure and preacher of syncretistic Bhakti variety. The main
part of the story revolves around Piro’s struggles over her own life, body and
thought in association with Gulabdas, for whom she abandoned her Muslim-ness,
amidst violent opposition, and sought a new beginning in the devotional milieu
at the Dera of the Guru....
mission to unite people who claimed to follow different faiths in common
devotion to the One God, because of which many Hindus and Muslims came to
accept him as a true man of God. About his teachings about the meaninglessness
of narrowly-inscribed religious labels and identities that hinder one from
realizing God. About his critique of
supremacism, bigotry, exclusivism, communalism, priest craft, caste and
caste-based discrimination and superstition in the name of religion. About his
insistence that mere rituals or belief in dogmas are utterly insufficient for
Hardly a day
passes without the media reporting some violent barbarity somewhere in the
world being committed in the name of Islam. Today, there is an urgent need for
popularising an alternate understanding of Islam, one rooted in a commitment to
peace, nonviolence and inter-community harmony. Peace and prosperity for all
peoples, not just Muslims alone, crucially depends on this....
Pained at the
horrific conditions of many Muslim societies today, that are characterized by
patriarchy, intolerance, violence and oppression, Sardar insists that the root
cause for their malaise is what has come to be seen as ‘Islamic orthodoxy’ (in
its Sunni as well as Shia versions). Hence, the only solution lies in replacing
this with an alternate understanding of Islam, one drawing on the tradition of
Muslims like the Mutazilites, who placed a premium on reason in their
understanding of Islam, and the Sufis, for whom love was the pivot.....
He also sees
value in Western secularism, explaining that “Muslim Westerners have understood
that when secularism and religious neutrality are not instrumentalised by
ideologues or intellectuals or political trends opposed to any presence of
religion, they guarantee religious pluralism in Western societies and protect
their legitimate rights.”...
It’s hard for
us even to be civilized in the parking lot of a Masjid, for God’s sake. The
only time we are organized is when we have to be organized in Sufuf (rows),
when Salah is called, but outside of that—forget about it! Just basic human
decency, basic human decency, we don’t possess. We don’t possess it. What have
we done? What have we produced as a people? How have we contributed to the
world? The only time we make it to the news is when we blow something up or we
are in some chaos or another....
his “cultural scope”, that “spans continents”, and suggests that his
“near-seamless transition from a village prodigy to a global scholar” is a
“stunning example of Muslim cosmopolitanism”. She refers to Nadwi’s kindness,
reserve, politeness and patience, and his open-mindedness and respect for
differences while being deeply-rooted in his faith....
Is that too big
a leap in both time and theology? Maybe not. Akyol frames it this way: “The
three great Abrahamic religions of our battered world, despite all the past and
present tensions between them, come together” in the story of Jesus. “Whether
we are Jews, Christians or Muslims, we share either a faith followed by him, or
a faith built on him, or a faith that venerates him.”....
different religions as so many ways to the same goal. Vedanta does not
antagonize any religion. Vedanta takes the position that the same God can be
viewed by individual minds in different ways. There are sure to be various
conceptions of God. The human mind can conceive of God according to its
capacity. The Hindus may conceive of God in one way. Mohammedans in another
way, the Christians in another way, the Jews another way. Each of these
conceptions can lead the spiritual aspirant to the ultimate goal....
teachings of nonviolence and forgiveness in the Quran and the traditions from
the Prophet and the Imams. Al-Shirazi argued that the “just as the soul is
stronger than the body, so too is nonviolence, since it is the weapon of the
soul, and so it is more powerful than the weapon of the body, which is made of
matter.” He highlighted cases of early Muslims who personified nonviolent
resistance to oppression....
Many of the other emotion-laden scenes — such as Erdogan’s brief
imprisonment in 1998 by another secularist, military regime — emphasize the
same basic message: The good, religious, modest people of Anatolia defeated a
brutal, vicious, secular establishment in Turkey thanks to Erdogan — the bold,
brave, unyielding “Chief.” Erdogan’s exceptional personality is of course
highlighted: He is afraid of no threat, including death, which he sees as
“coming together with God.” ....
The devastation that Earth faces today is, at root, a product of a
spiritually-bankrupt worldview that is premised on a deeply problematic concept
of ‘development’ and the related notion of the purpose of life being the
maximization of sensual pleasure, including consumption and material
acquisition. This being the case, overcoming it necessitates an inner
transformation of us as individuals and communities, a complete change in how
we perceive the purpose of our lives. In this regard, ‘environmental
spirituality’ has a key role to play....
Few religious figures in the history of civilization have as
successfully crossed borders of faith, language and geography as nimbly as
Jalal al-Din Mohammad Rumi, the great 13th-century theologian and mystic poet.
The son of an eccentric and ambitious Muslim preacher, Rumi, who is known in
the Persianate world as Maulana, “our master,” circumnavigated the Middle East
of the day, then overrun by invading Mongols and Seljuks, before eventually
settling in Konya, in Anatolia....
While the modern method is more theoretical and merely intellectual,
Sri Ramakrishna adopted the method of complete identification with the
spiritual content of each religion he chose to understand and lived like a
Muslim or a Christian and adored the Divine in their fashion with the fullest
devotional identification. It is after this practical experiment that he
declared that all these great religious traditions led to the same God. The
same was his experience when he practised the Sadhanas of the different sects
and cults of Hinduism....
He renounced all privilege, dressed and ate simply, slept on cots or on
the floor, wore torn clothes, cleaned latrines and swept floors, and otherwise
shared the lot of the poor. As one of the Red Shirts recalled: “He was a big
Khan but he lived like a Faqir. He did not even have a cap to cover his head”
(Banerjee: 126). The Bacha Khan never claimed spiritual powers for himself – he
was, he said, a servant, not a Prophet. ...
It propagates a victim mentality that facilitates psychological
manipulation, instilling fear and loathing of the host society that makes
integration impossible. The notion of Islamophobia encapsulates this
Suddenly, the Islamic State in Iraq, led by an ambitious former
graduate student who called himself Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, saw its fortunes
brighten anew. Baghdadi dispatched a handful of fighters to Syria and within a
few months they were running operations across much of the country. Iraq
promptly returned to chaos, and in April 2013, Baghdadi, presiding over a vast
fief that stretched from the Iraqi desert to the outskirts of Damascus,
rechristened his group yet again — as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or
ISIS — and appointed himself caliph.....
The most difficult subject for non-Muslims to understand is how
peaceful Muslims can exist simultaneously with Muslim terrorists. This is the
same problem Catholics, Protestants and Jews have had to grapple with
throughout the centuries as adherents of each of those religions used violence
to further some aim. Ghobash explains the differences among Muslims by
describing Islam as a pyramid: “The fundamentalist, reductive, ‘authentic’
Muslims are at the top with the loudest voices and the clearest plan....
A Spiritual Treasure Trove
Roshan Shah, New Age Islam
thinking is at the very root of the spirituality that he talks about. It is based on realizing and acknowledging
the existence of the Creator through reflection on the amazing universe. This
connection with the Creator is to be expressed in relating positively with the
creation in one’s daily life. To live in this way on an everyday basis is to
lead a spiritual life....
memory of such horror, we see these women of Gujarat not only resurrecting
their self-respect but even taking charge of their shattered communities. The
voices we hear in this book are unique. Some international reports dryly relate
the surprising strength African women have shown after the horrendous
bloodbaths of Rwanda, but none that lets us hear their inner voices. Perhaps,
this book when read could encourage African women to tell their stories.....
seeing the contradiction between wine and Islamic practice as deeply
paradoxical, Ahmed regards the relationship as ‘mutually constitutive’ within
the broader frame of a ‘common paradigm of Islamic life and thought’....