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Interview

Islam Would Never Allow Farkhunda to be Lynched
Bisma Tirmizi

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was a very gentle man, he was famed for his honesty, kindness and gentle ways; it was the Prophet’s (pbuh) humanity that made many a people of that era, and of today, convert to Islam. There are countless stories of born again Muslims who have studied the Prophet (pbuh) and his teachings and have changed the course of their own lives for the better….

 

Tunisia: Islamists in fragile democracy - Interview with Rashid Ghannouchi
Konrad Pedziwiatr

“Tunisia is the only democratic country in the Arab world”, one may read sprayed in French and Arabic on the wall of the construction site by the majestic Municipal Theatre on the main street of Tunis, Bourguiba Avenue. The graffiti captures well the mood of the vast majority of Tunisians who four years after the start of the Arab Spring feel proud of this new political reality....

 

The Many Names of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi
Ali Hashem

Uncovering the man behind the demagogue was no easy task, so to find an answer I interviewed people who met him, saw him or lived with him in the past. I visited the neighbourhood where he lived in Baghdad and the mosque he led the prayer services as an imam; I saw pictures of his family members, including his sons, daughters, brothers and wife….

 

...there has been a serious decline in Islamic scholarship and in the understanding of tolerant Islam. All religions are complicated but investment in their scholarship is important. Those who interpret these religions are often in doubt. You will hardly find students entering Islamic schools; they're becoming engineers, doctors, economists, etc. Islam, a multifaceted religion, is being interpreted by those with a mediocre understanding of it……

Much of What We Believe In Is Manufactured Dogma: Ziauddin Sardar
Ziauddin Sardar

At the same time, we have to look critically at ourselves, our worldview. A great deal of what we believe in is manufactured dogma. A lot of this was manufactured in history but sometimes in front of our eyes and justified with all sorts of Ahadees which have no basis in authenticity or our history. So criticism is essential. Critical Muslim is essentially about looking at Islam.....

Religious Pluralism Is the Expression of the Will, Design and Desire of God
Victor Edwin SJ, New Age Islam

Islam is a religion inclusive by nature and stands for Unity of God, Unity of Religion and Unity among all people. Secondly, I stressed that religious pluralism is the expression of the will of God for the world. It is God’s design and desire for humanity. If God wanted he could have created all of us within one religious mould. Therefore, we should respect the will of God and as far as our role is concerned vis-à-vis our religions we should communicate, whatever is truth according to our religious perspective. I accentuated that tolerance is not a virtue, but respecting others is really required.....

 

The Constitution gives freedom to citizens to follow faith of their choice, so as Quran. Indian Constitution and Quran don't discriminate between genders, don't allow polygamy. Both are rational and give equal rights to women.....

‘Growing Up As A Hindu in Pakistan Has Made Me More Sensitive To the Issues of Minorities Elsewhere’
Lal Chand Malhi, Member, National Assembly of Pak

We are Hindus but Pakistan is our homeland. Why should we leave our homeland? I know some Hindus who believed the propaganda of the Sangh Parivar and migrated from Pakistan to India in recent years. They are treated as second-class citizens in India....

I think clearly ISIS are trying to position themselves as something more than just a fighting force, that are trying to be seen to be controlling and delivering local services, children’s services, presumably also adult services. And this I suppose is a natural evolution for that organization to be trying to provide this kind of thing. They want social, ethical and moral credibility in the region, and ostensibly to keep attracting foreign fighters especially from the English-speaking world. This is why it is important that Islamic scholars, Muslim commentators, leading figures speak up and step up and say to people “Don’t go out to the region, don’t go to join them, don’t go to fight them, it’s not your warand this is a twisted ideological form of Islam we shouldn’t be getting engaged with….

 

Progressive Muslims in a World of ISIS and Islamophobes
Karima Bennoune

Let us take the media, for example. As progressive Muslims, ours is a narrative that does not fit the dominant story line. We were interviewed by a public television station, akin to the BBC, for the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Afterwards, the executive producer said, “your voice is irrelevant.” That is one example. Another is coverage of LGBT issues. They will interview the LGBT Muslim who has been discriminated against, and they will interview the homophobic Imam. But, even after interviewing me, they will not include us in the story. That adds to the Islamophobia. Because then the narrative is “all Muslims are intolerant so why should we tolerate them?" ….

 

Islam teaches us to be moderate. Islam teaches us to respect other religions. And yet we have this kind of rhetoric which does not benefit anyone. And the frightening thing to me is that at home and abroad, the Malays will be seen as politicising Islam – encouraging Islamic extremism….

 

Islamic State Was Born In 1979 with Covert Operations in Afghanistan
Jeffrey Steinberg

The whole idea was to play Islamic Fundamentalism against the "godless Soviet Union", but the problem this created was the emergence of groups such as al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden himself went to Peshawar in Northwest Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border, as part of this Anglo-American/ Saudi project to create a terrorist organization against the Soviet presence in Afghanistan…..

'I Make Literature, Not War: Literature Is Not Jewish, Arab, Or American, It Tells Stories to Everyone,' Says Liberal Algerian Writer Boualem Sansal
Boualem Sansal

 In his panel at AIR, organized around successful novels written in the form of diaries, one of the writers expressed her surprise (felt by many of his readers) that he, a Muslim living in an anti-Semitic country, should write about the Shoah and express such compassion. My interview with him was wonderful, even though the tape recorder I bought for the occasion failed to work and I had to write all his answers at record speed. Those notes were then lost in boxes of books and documents that I shipped from Europe, and were only miraculously recovered a few weeks ago. …..

 

President Barack Obama once again refused to label the fight against terrorism as a war on radical Islam or any kind of "religious war," insisting that such labels hurt efforts to root out radical ideologies in Muslim communities. Obama also cautioned against the risk of overplaying the threat of terror groups and said the U.S. should instead align itself with the overwhelming majority of Muslims who reject the radical ideology and tactics of terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda….

 

Ensaf Haidar: Raif Badawi Is a ‘Peaceful Person’ Who Deserves To Be Freed
Ensaf Haidar

My husband is an activist and the founder of the "Free Saudi liberal network". Raif believed in the freedom of speech and the respect of other beliefs. The main reason he launched the network is to promote debate and discussion about lots of topics in Saudi society. He is accused of lots of things. In my opinion, Raif's detention is unjust and they should re-try him and set him free. All he was asking for was freedom of speech. And because he wrote that down, he was thrown in jail…..

France Is Tense — If Ideas Weren’t Strong, Journalists, Writers Wouldn’t Be Targets: Florence Noiville
Florence Noiville, French writer

One of the keywords in France is ‘laicite’, which means public life should be separated from religion. This often goes with ‘assimilation’, which, in people’s minds, means everyone should be like the mainstream, Franco-French, and all differences should be erased. People forget France has been populated over centuries by very different ethnic groups. Things are paradoxical. France is the country of the Revolution, human rights — but it’s always had a problem with its minorities, Protestants, Jews, Roma, now, Muslims…..

The Faith of the Islamic State
Students of Habib University

…the black banner with the Islamic creed written on it. In all its simplicity, it echoes the most basic claims of Islam as a system of belief and world order. Furthermore, it underpins IS’s claims to represent the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s spiritual and physical heritage. It thereby serves as a symbolic transfer of the Prophet’s (PBUH) authority as a religious and political leader of the first Islamic State in Medina. By and large, this visual sign, notwithstanding — or precisely, because of — its simple graphical structure, is heavily charged with meaning and compels notions of prophetic succession, rebellion, unification as well as of revenge and annulment of dishonouring actions which have remained in the collective memory of Muslims….

 

Patrick Cockburn: U.S. Turns Blind Eye as Saudis Fund Jihadists in Syrian Conflict
Patrick Cockburn

I mean, this may have started off as a popular uprising in Syria, but by now it has four or five different conflicts wrapped into one, that—and you have an opposition, but an opposition which is fragmented and really proxies for foreign powers, notably Saudi Arabia, Qatar. Turkey plays a role. What has changed recently, since midsummer, is that Saudi Arabia is becoming the main financier for the rebel military groups inside Syria. Qatar is playing a lesser role. And the Saudis are trying to develop a Sunni Islamic force that is against the Assad government in Damascus, but is also against al-Qaeda. But this is, even so, very much a sectarian force, which is already being blamed for sectarian attacks on Christians and Druze and Alawites. There, then, of course, you also have the United States and Britain and France…..

 

Arab Spring Has Now Turned Into a Winter
Gilbert Achcar

Progressive forces need to be bold enough to dare to struggle and dare to win. If radical change does not come through them, we will only get what I called a “clash of barbarisms”. Syria is the clearest example of this presently with the Syrian regime on one hand, and IS and Al-Qaeda on the other. But the uprising is not over yet. The Arab “spring” has now turned into a “winter”, but there will be more seasons to come…..

 

The State Has No Right to Interfere In the Relationship between Man and God
General Pervez Musharraf

I also believe that religion is a private matter between a person and his creator. The state has no right to interfere in the relationship between man and God. The separation of church and state is mandatory. It must be respected…..

Like many youngsters, a teenage boy, Mohamed Wald Syed Ahmed spent his free time online. But he opened up a door to the world of jihadist recruiters and soon became popular among extremists by the name of Mohamed Atta Shanqiti. He eventually landed in prison, where his convictions changed. He returned to school after his release, took a bride, and thought about how he could help prevent other young men from choosing the dangerous road to extremist Jihadism…..

 

Meeting Salma Bhatti, Wife of Slain Minister Shahbaz Bhatti
Raza Rumi

Three years after Shahbaz Bhatti’s death, though admittedly his brothers have tried hard to pursue justice, they have started getting death threats themselves, as if a hidden “third hand” were telling them, “You have received the blood money for your brother’s murder. Now hush up.”

 

Deterioration of Human Rights in Iran
Shabnam Assadollahi

While the international community is focused on getting nuclear deals with Iran, it is easy to ignore the fact that Iran is also one of the world's worst human rights violators. When the constitution of a country and the law of the land are based on Sharia and Islamic law, inequality between men and women, Retribution Law, execution for being enemy of God (Mohareb), death by hanging, there is little hope of anyone condemning these acts....

 

Abu Qatada: I Am Not a Salafist or a Jihadist
Abu Qatada

His doctrine of Jihad as he explained it to me is not about murdering innocent civilians, journalists or aid workers or just wanton murderous violence the way ISIS is making it to be. In that sense, Abu Qatada said” I am not a Jihadist.” For him, Jihad should come to mean a Muslim renaissance where the whole “Ummah” should rise up to be a powerful and advanced nation on par with other developed powerful nations of the world.  He states that “Jihad should be among other things, about political, cultural, scientific empowerment of the Muslims.” The problem with current” Jihadist” groups today is that they use “ Jihad”  in a way that made the whole religion of Islam absorbed by “Jihad” not the other way around.  This is a pivotal point in Abu Qatada’s development of his doctrine of Jihad….

‘Europe Faces a Huge Challenge in Dealing with Its Muslim Citizens,’ says Akbar S. Ahmed
Raza Rumi

No Muslim is immune to Islamophobia in the West. Even I in spite of my very public interfaith efforts have been attacked on the basis of the most absurd arguments: in one case because the Islamophobe attacking me mentioned that I held the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, DC and wrote that Ibn Khaldun was a terrorist militant. Another accusation was that I admired Maulana Rumi who was, according to the Islamophobe, a terrorist poet. It is the height of absurdity...

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