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Books and Documents

Interfaith Dialogue

Banning of Basant the Most Damaging Degradation of Cultural Events

Basant is significant for many reasons, not least that it is a centuries-old cultural tradition of Punjab that cuts across all lines of society, religion, caste and creed. In many ways, the universality of the festival makes it symbolic of the culture of tolerance and diversity that the subcontinent was once known for. The upkeep of this festival is particularly crucial for Pakistan and Lahore specifically. …

The Relationship between the Muslim Religious Self and the Religious Other
Dr. Adis Duderija is a Research Associate in Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne

Prophet Muhammad’s message arose within the context of well-established religious communities, most important of them being—apart from the pre-Quranic paganism—Judaism, Christianity, and Hanifiyyah.  The Qur’an itself describes several instances of the Muslim community’s attitude toward the non-Muslim Other and vice-versa. … Quranic progressive consolidation of Islamic religious identity is inextricably linked with the religious identity of the Other, notably of Jews and Christians. …

A Closer Look at Claims of ‘Persecution’ Of Christians in Kashmir
Yusuf Jameel, is journalist of South Asia

Some of these Christian may find it difficult to work among the local Muslims after openly being accused of luring the members of the majority Muslim community, mainly the youth, into Christianity by offering them “riches’ – a charge that is vehemently denied by the Christians. In fact, many Kashmiri Muslims are wary of the cleric’s moves, ostensibly both because of his wispy religious pursuits….

India, Pakistan: A growing Peace Constituency

When Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggested last summer that Pakistan should "leave the Kashmir issue alone" and focus on its domestic challenges, the comment did not elicit the customary howls of outrage in the Pakistan media. Instead, it was met with a grudging acknowledgement that this time India''s leader might be right. If such episodes reflect an incipient new national mood in Pakistan, it could well be time for India to seize the moment to build a lasting peace. …

Defending the Realm''s Faith
Sunanda K Datta Ray

Defending the Realm''s Faith

The rationale is that “being sure of who you are is the only way in which you will be more accommodating of others”. A religious monopoly doesn’t always mean acceptance of others; it leads to scriptural absolutism as under Emperor Aurangzeb when Hindus had to pay the jaziya tax. The assumption is that a minority community politician feels the route to advancement lies in being demonstrably more loyal than the king. …

 

Fighting for Faith with a Baroness

“We stand side by side with the Pope in fighting for faith”, she claims that “militant secularisation is taking hold of our societies”. Governance free from faith should not be confused with failure to recognise the rights and frankly the beauty of the multitude of faiths that exist in Britain – or in other countries....

The vast majority of the religious are Buddhists or Daoists. Estimates for the number of Christians vary wildly from 50m to 100m. Across the country, local governments have rebuilt temples and constructed new ones to capitalise on religious tourism. In rural areas, temples and churches have helped provide education and health care, with the unofficial blessing of local party chiefs. ...

 

On the arrival of the enraged horde, a Muslim leader, Haji Usman, stood between them and the church. He sensibly took a risk, even with the possibility that he would lose his life. In the end, he climbed a ladder triumphantly. The mob cancelled its plans and dismissed itself. The independence of a nation, as far as it is generically defined, must allow freedom to all parts of a society. There should even be understanding and clemency granted for all people who previously were categorized as the oppressors. -- Khairil Azhar

Wars kill in more ways than one, and the longer they go on the more do the ways multiply. India needs to do more not only because with the former hegemonic powers turning into predators a vacuum is developing from Pakistan to the Maghreb. It has a duty to do more also because it can do more. -- Prem Shankar Jha

The dialogue ended with five recommendations for future interfaith projects: The need to build trust, address issues with open transparency, acquire knowledge and understanding of the other faiths, and to come up with joint projects that can serve their communities and tackle common issues of major concern.  -- Samar Fatany

The Hindus are the first nation with a Shariah (divinely revealed way of life) and the Muslims are the last one. The wisdom of God has brought the two nations together in India. The original name of Hinduism is Sanatan dharma or Shaswat dharma. Sanatan means that which has come straight and Shaswat means that which has come down from the heaven directly. The Sanatan dharm or Shaswat dharm are the Hindi synonyms of Deen-e-Qaiyim. In Gita, the word ‘swadharm’ and Swabhawnit karm’ are used to mean one that is taught by the nature and not by parents. The Quran calls Islam the natural religion. It is our faith that every prophet presented the religion of Islam to his nation. -- Asim Sabri (Translated from Urdu by New Age Islam Edit Desk)

Are you ready for stories of violence in the Bible? The fact is that all revealed religions are just that "revealed" and therefore, open to interpretations by the adherents. It is the reason we have so many denominations in Christianity because we do not all agree on the meaning of a particular passage of our scripture. The fact remains that religion remains a source of conflict in the modern world because of ethnocentrism. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu eloquently stated in his new book, "God is not a Christian", we belong and practice a particular religion because of the accident of our birth. If our parents were born in Saudi Arabia instead of southern Nigeria, chances are that you and I will be Muslims today and how we practice that religion would depend on our level of education and socio-economic status. We have this tendency to evangelise and see our culture and religion as "the way" and all others as savages. -- Ezekiel Ette

In his first Christmas address in 2006, Pope Benedict XVI called on the world not to shut Christ out of Christmas. "May his birth not finds us busy celebrating Christmas forgetting that he (Jesus) is the very person at the centre of the feast The Pope may see "DIY religion" and secularism as a threat, but for many young Indians it's becoming a way of life. "My friends join me in Christmas party and I celebrate Diwali and Id with them. For us, celebrating the festival together and with our families is more important than following its religious message," says Samantha, 21. "For me, it's more of a family celebration, and that's the way it should be. I am sure Jesus doesn't mind it," says the Chennai student. In the past, the festivals were secular. -- Shobhan Saxena

And here I do wish to share with readers in Pakistan only some portions of a memorable speech that late Maulana Abul Kalam Azad delivered in Jama Masjid, Delhi, on 23 October 1947:  He said: Was it not only yesterday that on the banks of the Yamuna, your caravans performed wuzu? …Remember, Delhi has been nurtured with your blood. Brothers! Create a basic change in yourselves. Today, your fear is as misplaced as your jubilation was yesterday…” That is why I add that we are, India and Pakistan are both integral to South Asia, irremediably; as parts of it, though, now not as conjoined twins; and to paraphrase Churchill, “We are linked but not compromised, we are interested and associated” but as separates.-- Jaswant Singh

The truth is: Father Christmas and I go back a long, long way. It’s probably religiously incorrect to say so in modern-day Pakistan, but I remember a time when men with beards were a rarity in the country except for the appearance in December of a motley group of Santas. But times change. The country now marches to a stricter, more austere tune. Pakistan seems less enticing and attractive. Most years, I’d rather spend Christmas in Europe. My childhood fascination with Santa, however, remains alive. -- Shada Islam

Pakistani Media and Anti-Americanism

 

Sikhism, as one of the youngest religions in the world, was born in Punjab (India) and Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikh religion. Islam was born as a new faith in Arabia during the 7th Century and Prophet Muhammad was its founder. Guru Nanak realised the suffering of Indian people under the yoke of dual oppression by Brahmanic and Islamic priestly classes on the one hand and the contemporary rulers, on the other. Prophet Muhammad found the Arabian people divided into hundreds of tribes engaged in internecine warfare. The people were superstitious and believed in idol worship, magic, astrology and cult practices. -- Dr. HS Virk

Secular commentators dismiss religion as a malign force in the world. But from Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi to the Arab spring, faith is inspiring the new peaceful protest. "Allah doth accept of the sacrifice of those who are righteous. If thou dost stretch thy hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee: for I do fear Allah, the Cherisher of the worlds. For me, I intend to let thee draw on thyself my sin as well as thine, for thou wilt be among the Companions of the Fire and that is the reward of those who do wrong."Quran, 5:27-29 -- Mehdi Hasan

 

Nonetheless, in many Muslim countries, large celebrations mark Mawlid, the lunar holiday for the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, so celebrating Jesus isn't without precedent. "I have spoken to many Christian Americans who have no idea that we believe in Jesus and that we believe he is the savior. We believe will come back and unite everyone together," says Safi. "I say to them, 'I hope you know he is as holy to us as he is to you. We don't believe he is the Son of God, but he is a very important prophet.'" -- Jaweed Kaleem

The creation of Pakistan was a consequence of a political struggle as well as negotiations with the other stakeholders. Hence the birth of Pakistan should have been a completely peaceful event. However, on the contrary, the entire region went into flames with mass killings. It is another big lie like many others in our official narrative that tens of thousands of people offered their sacrifices for the liberation of Pakistan. Nobody in fact sacrificed anything. The “killings” were direct fallout of riots which were sparked to loot and establish ownership over properties belonging to other communities. Neither any of the parties behaved humanely in that pursuit, nor the political establishment of the newly created states could stop bloodshed. The birth of Pakistan was a peaceful event yet the desire to acquire assets through force transformed the process into a game of blood, loot and arson. Hence the very purpose for which the state came into existence died down at the very beginning. -- Arshad Mahmood

This blog post is a response to an article published in The Express Tribune by Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy titled: “Deepening the Pakistan-India divide.” Hence I address this to him. I am not a professor like you who gets an invite and a letter to give a lecture at some university. Nor am I an artist who gets to show a business contract for facilitating the visa. In both these cases, to be able to get an Indian visa is much easier than it is for me. I am an ordinary Pakistani who wants to visit my relatives in India. And every year the daunting question arises: What if I do not get the visa? Days before I fill up the forms, my soul shudders with this fear. But then, why do I want to go to India so desperately each year? No, I do not want to visit some old relatives whom I got  separated from during the partition, nor do I want to see my ‘virtual’ friend or my distant cousins who I reconnected with on Facebook or Twitter. No, Sir. I seek a visa to visit my parents and brothers. You read it correct – my parents. -- Dr Ilmana Fasih

“There's no question that humanity has diversified and is diverse,” Paprock says. “Here we are in a culture that we are literally seconds from communicating around the world with Facebook, Tweeting, and Internet.  We end up connecting with people all over the world — very diverse peoples. ... “My personal reason for being involved is the Christian message of love of others regardless of whether they are my friend, a stranger, an enemy, or a neighborhood,” Paprock says. “The bottom line issue is that we have to live with one another on this planet at this time when so many dynamic things are happening and we have to find a way to live together in harmony and peace to the best of our ability.” -- A. David Dahmer (Photo: Selena Fox)

The biggest part of Thanksgiving is sharing and caring. It is a day to express friendship and kindness to those who are struggling with the difficulties of life. It ought to bring out the best in us for others. The Native Americans believe that the world is one large family, an interconnected and interdependent web of life, where each one of us is a strand. What affects one, affects the other. It behooves us to care for each other for the web to remain intact. Indeed, Hinduism titles this beautifully: Vasudaiva Kutumbukum -- the whole world is one family. Walk the Middle path, said Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), just have enough desires that you can fulfill them, happiness stays with you. My mother used to say "don't stretch your feet beyond your sheet," meaning, stay within your means. Every faith and every family is enriched with such an advice. -- Mike Ghouse

Eating your cake and having it too may be a tempting thought. But you can’t have it both ways. The sooner Muslims realise it, the better for the Ummah... and the image of Islam. A Christian pastor — Reverend Chander Mani Khanna, the presbyter-in-charge of All Saints’ Church in Srinagar — is being hounded both by the state and society for his “crime-cum-sin” of converting, allegedly through inducements, a number of Muslim youth from the Valley to Christianity. What’s Islamic law and a Sharia court doing in a secular democratic polity? Your guess is as good as mine. The J&K government, it seems, knows better. ….. the Islamisers should be reminded that Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees to all citizens “the right freely to profess, practice and propagate (their) religion.” Perhaps they could also be reminded of the Quranic injunction: “La ikraha fiddin” (There is no compulsion in religion). -- Javed Anand

Jesus in the Quran
S. Arshad, NewAgeIslam.com

Jesus in the Quran
S. Arshad, NewAgeIslam.com

Influenced by the Greek and Hindu mythology, some baseless and vulgar beliefs about God had found way into the Arab belief system. They had conjured up relations between God and angels and djinns as happens with the Greek and Hindu gods and goddesses. To them, angels were women and the daughters of djinns were their mothers. In other words, they had conjured up matrimonial relationships between God and the djinns. They considered God also having human traits of personality. God’s being beyond the principle of cause and effect was something beyond their imagination. On this count, the Quran chides those who spread such vulgar and absurd beliefs: “Now ask them (O Muhammad): "Are there (only) daughters for your Lord and sons for them?"  “ (As-Saaffaat: 149) On another occasion, the Quran says: “And they make the angels who themselves are slaves to the Most Beneficent (Allah) females. Did they witness their creation? Their evidence will be recorded, and they will be questioned! “(Al Zukhruf: 19) -- S. Arshad, NewAgeIslam.com

 

Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never harm you.  Rubbish!  There is great power in words.  Words shape our world and our worldview. They can unite or divide. They can hurt or they can heal. The Bible (John 1:1) reads “In the beginning was The Word” and the Quran teaches that everything came into existence with The Word. Allah (God) uses an honorable term in the Quran Ahlil Kitab —People of the Book, referring to the children of Israel and the followers of Jesus, The Son of Mary.  Yet all too often I hear people referring to themselves as “Non-Muslims”, “Non-Christians” or “Non-Jews”.  These are definitions of who “they are not”.  If I attended a dinner party and the host introduced me as their “non-white friend” I don’t think I’d be around long enough to shake hands. It would be on the level of something Malcolm X once said, “Called me the “N-Word” so much I thought it was my name”. Let us recall that in 615 CE the prophet Muhammad, pbuh, said to his oppressed followers, ‘Go to Habasha (Ethiopia), there you will find a Christian King who is just’. Quran revealed that the whole world is a place for prayer.  Many American Muslims viewed the United States as the early Muslims refugees from Mecca viewed Ethiopia. -- Imam Johari Abdul-Malik

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