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Books and Documents

Interview

Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?
Peter Laarman

I decided I wasn’t going to read them. My wife did read them and called me in tears over the way people attacked our son and family. (She’s used to the attacks on me.) I must say that I have gotten a great many private messages from leading evangelical and even charismatic leaders who want me to know that they do not endorse or share the venom expressed in the published comments. Many progressive Christians have sent kind and supportive messages, too. .....

 

Do Away With Narrow Mindedness; the Desire to Make More Nukes Would Also Disappear
Pervez Hoodbhoy

As for the Islamic Bomb, as yet it is not a reality. The bomb that Pakistan made was, at least initially, purely in response to India's 1974 test. Growing radicalization in Pakistan could change that, and some religious-political parties do claim the bomb for Islam. They want to terrify Pakistanis into believing that we are under constant siege and thus create a climate where the right-wing ideology of hate and violence can flourish....

 

Mohamed Morsi: ''We Don't Want a Theocratic State''
President Mohamed Morsi

I'm doing my best. I am pleased that there is diversity of opinion and am glad that we have an opposition. We are still learning how to cooperate in a fully democratic environment – with real freedom – for the common good of all Egyptians so that we can move forward together. No one has the right to use force. At the moment, we do not have a parliament, but that will soon change….

 

What this means for Israel in the region, regardless of the United States, is that the Muslim Brotherhood whether they have the support of the Egyptian people, or not, will be extremely sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Although the Muslim Brotherhood has made it clear since coming to power that they will respect the Camp David agreement, they have slowly started to show that perhaps they will seek a revision of the established relations with Israel.

 

Muhammad (pbuh): Deep Commitment to Social Justice, Radical Protest against Greed and Corruption and Impassioned Engagement with the Idea of Unity, Both, Human and Divine
Lesley Hazleton

There was a terrific story to be told here: the journey from neglected orphan to acclaimed leader—from marginalized outsider to the ultimate insider—made all the more dramatic by the tension between idealism and pragmatism, faith, and politics. I wanted to be able to see Muhammad as a complex, multidimensional human being, instead of the two-dimensional figure created by reverence on the one hand and prejudice on the other. I wanted the vibrancy and vitality of a real life lived....

Hamas is Israel's Creation
Farooq Sulehria

After Sept 11, and even before that, the images of the Arabs have been negative: If he is a man he is a terrorist or a wife-beater. If she is a woman, she is pictured as a veiled victim. After the fall of "Communism", the western world needed a new enemy. The way Mossad created Hamas, CIA created Bin Laden and al-Qaida. In the beginning of the second Intifada the typical story in Israeli and international media was: Palestinian mother sending her child to an Israeli checkpoint to become a martyr....

‘Home-Grown Western Terrorists Are New Threat to India’
Vaiju Naravane

How worried are you about this phenomenon in France? How big is it? After all, France with some five million Muslims has the largest Muslim population in Europe.

In France the problem is probably huge. It’s a new phenomenon, we have little knowledge of it and it is growing because the geopolitical environment is not under control. By that I mean that on the southern rim of the Mediterranean Sea you have countries like Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya where weak, pro-Islamic governments have come to power after the Arab Spring. They are no longer in control of society and more importantly, they are not in control over the internet propaganda machine. This uncontrolled terrorist, Islamic fundamentalist internet propaganda is spreading across the world and given the proximity between the two banks of the Mediterranean, this propaganda has begun infecting French society. That is why the influence of this trend is growing and could lead to more radicalisation in the near future….

Fawzia Koofi: ‘We Give the Taliban So Much Privilege and Identity That We Look Weaker’
Revati Lau

The 19th girl child born to her father’s sixth wife, Fawzia Koofi was left out in the punishing winter of Afghanistan’s Badakshan province to die. She survived and was taken back in. When she was three, her father was killed by the Mujahideen. Imprisoned by the Taliban, her husband died of tuberculosis. The Taliban has also tried, several times, to assassinate her. Fawzia has endured all this to become the first woman Speaker of the Afghan Parliament....

Christianophobia: Christians Persecuted Throughout the World by Islamic, Hindu Extremists
Grand Mufti of Libya Sheikh Sadik Al-Ghariani

Libyans from different backgrounds are being constantly invited to make free trips to Iran. Yes, we had some calls from families informing us about the conversion of their sons into the religion of the atheist Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani [founder of the Ahmediyya sect] who claimed he had received a divine revelation and who had also claimed that he was a reincarnation of God!  His doctrine has been widely followed in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India....

We Never Felt That We Are Hindus and Living Among Muslims: Kashmir Panchayat Leader
Asha Bhat, Kashmir Panchayat Leader

The village, which sits on the edge of the Himalayas amid tall Chinar trees and flowing streams, is home to over 100 Muslim families but has only five families of Kashmiri Pandits, a Hindu community that for the most part fled the region in the 1990s under increasing threats of violence. Only some Pandit families, including Mrs. Bhat's, chose to stay behind. Mrs. Bhat's election was celebrated as a sign of growing tolerance in the region, although some of the initial euphoria has died down since then.....

'If This Were a Civilized Land, Faith Would Be Private': Uzma Aslam Khan
Awais Aftab

We can't even get our passport renewed without 'confessing' to not being Ahmadis. I've even been asked my religion while registering for a blood test. And to whom are we always in need of confessing? Not to God, but to a bunch of people who call themselves the state. If this were a civilized land, faith would be private and proof against those we know are playing God would be public. But in Pakistan, it's the other way around: Faith is public and proof is private....

Well, speaking of Punjabi music particularly, this has its own special beat and mood. Its beat has been popular across centuries - and it's no different in Pakistan today. The popularity of this form of music stems from its roots embedded within folk culture. Also, anyone who is a follower of Punjabi music usually has a Sufi temperament, which is part of the craft and adds to the experience of appreciating this music. ...

 

Sima Samar: Let Women Choose If They Want Burqa, Jobs
Sima Samar

It is not easy for women to work in any country, and particularly for those who are pushing for equality. Naturally, it is more difficult in countries in conflict. But so far, we are much better in terms of women's participation in the government and politics than most countries in Asia. As to making an impact, we have a strong independent human rights commission in Afghanistan, where using the word 'human rights' was counted as a crime few years ago. ....

‘There Is No Right Not To Be Offended’: Salman Rushdie
Mukund Padmanabhan

Religion and secularism, truth and falsity, friendship and enmity, hope and despair, bravery and cowardice, love and betrayal, collide in the pages to form a highly-charged battleground of ideas about a world poised for an uncertain future. In this phone interview, Salman Rushdie talks about the novel that robbed him of a decade and the lessons it has taught him about free speech, religious fundamentalism and the importance of standing up for what you believe in....

Freedom To Criticize Religion Is A Touchstone Of Free Expression
Gilbert Achcar

In Europe, when you feel you have been a victim of hate speech, you can resort to legal action. The question of Western double standard is usually raised with regard to Jews there, as it is much more difficult in Europe to articulate an anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic speech than an Islamophobic one. But this state of affairs owes to two factors. The first is Europe’s sense of guilt with regard to the Jewish genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany during the Second World War with much European complicity....

The idea of a world government that may assure peace in the world is empty of meaning. It makes no sense because, first of all, a world government should express the will of all countries in the world by a universal parliament, hierarchical and unipolar, in which the great powers should live side by side with the poorest countries. It has no meaning because the so-called five BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are....

 

‘It Is Very Lonely To Fight For Justice’
Shoma Chaudhury

Why was the critical evidence produced by senior Gujarat policemen like Rahul Sharma and RB Sreekumar not produced in court in time? If the Rahul Sharma CD (with call records of those fatal days) had been investigated by the CBI in 2006, and authenticated, it would have produced so much material. But the analysis was left to NGOs. First Jan Sangharsh Manch did some of the analysis; then we filled the gaps when we found the phone records of Modi and others have not been examined.

How Akbar Bugti Visualized 30 Years Ago Baluchistan Today
Akbar Khan Bugti

Today being Akbar Bugti’s death anniversary, am sharing an autobiographical interview of him published in HERALD about 30 years ago. (Have misplaced the only copy I have, so can’t give the exact month and year or include the photos.)

 One may or may not have liked Bugti, and although I heard various negative stories about him, I could understand what it is like not to have control over one’s own life, to be persecuted in one’s own land, and the pain and humiliation of endless subjugation. In fact, I got to like him. And I share this as a matter of history. - Najma Sadeque (spelling wrong in the printed version)

Excerpts: “In the last few years, foreign money has been pouring into Baluchistan. The Western and Arab World have suddenly discovered a place called Baluchistan and its importance ever since the Russian presence in Afghanistan. But most projects are ‘pocket’ schemes – they go into the pockets of officials and blue-eyed notables. The sizes of the ‘pockets’ have increased, they’ve become gunny bags. Little trickles into ‘development’, but no government consultations are held with tribal elders on projects. It doesn’t win the loyalty of the locals or gratefulness to foreigners, whatever their intentions are. You can pour in millions, but you can’t buy Baluchistan and the Baluchis.”

 

French Muslims Seek Equal Rights, Respect For Islam: Analyst
Nabila Ramdani

Now they are saying there is no question of security, we can go ahead with it and France is saying, yes, there is a question of security and there is something we have to distinguish to separate between religion and sports; now it is not only between state and religion; it is between religion and sport.

 

A Spy’s Life: An Interview With A Senior Yemeni Spy
Ahmed Bin Mo’aili

He had different duties in different countries, which required him to travel in several Arab countries. Because of this, Bin Mo’aili acquired tens of wives over the years. Bin Mo’aili worked for 23 years in Saudi intelligence and then for ten years in Yemeni-Iraqi cooperative intelligence. But now, things have changed. Currently, he is facing problems with Yemeni intelligence operations, known as the Political Security Organization (PSO), because they separated him from his 31 children who live all around the Arab countries he has worked in and who are awaiting his return.

 
Socialists and Writers
By A.G. Noorani

Socialists and Writers
A.G. Noorani

Now there is a Persian saying: “Ai Roshnu-Tuba to Burman Bala Shudi” – Perhaps it is an illumination of my mind which became a disaster for me. That is to say, it was because we worked hard and enrolled new members, organised socialist forums and, of course, we had a policy, which was not opposed to the socialists, [that we became suspects in the eyes of the socialists]. In our view [this] should [have been] the policy which all socialists and communists in India should [have followed]....

 

Taking Tea with Afghanistan’s Most Fearsome Warlord
General Abdul Rashid Dostum

At six feet tall, he towers a good seven inches above me. I feel my legs wobble – his reputation is nearly as fearsome as his bushy moustache. He is General Abdul Rashid Dostum, Afghanistan’s most powerful warlord, head of the Uzbek tribe, unofficial ruler of the north, and, as the government’s chief of staff, commander of an army of over 25,000 men....

 

Irshad Manji: Love Is the Biggest Threat to Those Who Operate On Fear
Irshad Manji

When Manji is asked to elaborate on what she means by being free-thinking and Muslim, she gives the Quran as an example saying it contains three times as many verses calling on Muslims to thank, analyze, reflect and re-think, than verses that tell them only what is right or only what is wrong. Manji clarifies that this means that there are three times as many passages encouraging Ijtihad than blind submission. In that sense, she adds, progressive Muslims are at least as authentic as the mainstream – and quite possibly more constructive….

Home and the World
M A Farooqui in an interview with A M Hashmi

Home and the World
Musharraf Ali Farooqui

This is more of a challenge with rhymed poetry. If rhymes are involved, much of the poem is lost in translation, only an impression is conveyed. But I have translated the prose poems of Afzal Ahmed Syed, whose work I really admire and whom I consider Urdu's greatest contemporary poet, and they have been very well received. In translations of classical prose such as Dastan-e Amir Hamza I think that about 90% of the original can be communicated effectively if one has control over one's medium....

 
9/11 Was a Turning Point for the American Muslim Community
Zahra Billoo in an interview with Angelo Lopez

9/11 Was a Turning Point for the American Muslim Community
Zahra Billoo

9/11 was a turning point for the American Muslim community, one that really shook many into civic engagement. People started to realize that they needed to do education around who they were and what they believed, very quickly. Many began to host open house events both in their own homes and mosques, to open their doors and answer any questions their fellow Americans may have. Additionally, American Muslims are looking inward to ensure there are no violent elements within the community and that people are not misinterpreting the faith....

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