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Interview

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...

Islam preaches ‘don’t commit adultery,’ Christianity preaches the same thing, ‘be nice to people’, ‘be a giver’ and all that, are the same in the two religions. Anyone that goes outside the Quran to do some other thing is on his own. Initially, he wanted me to be a Muslim; probably I would have joined him. But, there was a period in my life, when I was very ill, though everything seemed okay, within me I knew I was not okay. That was around 1998, during the first Holy Ghost Congress of the Redeemed Christian Church of God tagged Lekki 1998, with the theme: ‘Divine Visitation.’ I was actually visited by God, I went with my daughter, and actually it took us hours to get there. I then said; ‘God, you have to heal me here today, if you cannot heal me, I want to die here.’ That was what I said and since then, I have never been admitted in the hospital….

 

God says in the Quran that He guides whom He wills to Islam. As I mentioned, I’d been struggling lately because of things like Islamophobia. Instead of cherishing the fact that God called me to the religion, I’ve been focusing on superficial things that distract me from the real beauty of what it means to be Muslim. This experience showed me that I have been taking the great gift of this faith for granted……

 

India, Pakistan Should Focus On Children — Not Bullets: Beena Sarwar
Beena Sarwar

It is ironic that while India and Pakistan trade bullets and kill innocents across the Line of Control in Kashmir, two of their activists are jointly awarded the Nobel peace prize for activism on child rights — an issue that affects both countries deeply. This is what they should be concentrating on……

 

One must undermine the legitimacy of AQ and IS by destroying the associated images of heroism and adventure, by returning them to their true stature, what they really amount to: not Muslim community heroes, but at best losers, like the three who gave themselves up to the police, and at worst bandits, ‘yobbos’, fascinated by Brian De Palma's Scarface. The only way is to ‘deflate’ the attractive image of jihad. Which is the opposite of what one is doing: leading a charge under the flag to the sound of the trumpet! The 1914 war commemorations must have gone to our leaders' heads!....

 

Noam Chomsky: U.S. Spawned a Fundamentalist Frankenstein in the Mideast
Noam Chomsky

We cannot know for sure. What we do know, however, is that if we succumb to despair we will help ensure that the worst will happen. And if we grasp the hopes that exist and work to make the best use of them, there might be a better world. Not much of a choice.....

 

Muslims Must Dedicate Themselves to Building a Peaceful Image of Islam; This Is the Zibh Azeem for the Present Times
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Muslims ritually sacrifice an animal, but the real purpose is to pledge that we will dedicate ourselves to the peaceful divine mission just as the Prophet Ismail dedicated himself. Eid-ul-Adha is a day of pledge for a dedicated life rather than a day of some ritual act. At present, the greatest need for the divine mission is to remove the misunderstandings developed about the religion of Islam that is, thinking Islam to be a religion of violence. Generally, people take the divine mission as a violent mission. The faithful must dedicate themselves to remove this misunderstanding. This is the Zibh Azeem for the present times. Prophet Abraham wanted to make a peaceful team for the divine mission. Today, Muslims must dedicate themselves to building a peaceful image of Islam…..

I Was Initially Haunted By One Question From Indians: 'There Are Temples In Pakistan?'
Raza Rumi
Our over a year long journey across the country was an eye-opener. It sprang one surprise after another and assailed many presumptions with Kali Ki Gali in Peshawar, Shivala Mandir in Mansehra, a Pujari’s words in Pindi:  “Yeh Mutthi Bhar Dahshatgard Kitna Bigaar Leingay?” to name a few......

 

Interfaith dialogue should seek ways to reinforce the sense of universal humanity between believers in the different religions. Prophet Muhammad Sallallāhu Alayhi Wa Sallam is said to have instructed the Muslim refugees who fled to Christian-ruled Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in the face of their oppression in Makkah to accept the laws and customs of the land to which they migrated, although remaining Muslims. This is supported by a Hadith narrated by Ibn Umar and recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari (Volume 4, Book 52, Number 203): 'The Prophet said, "It is obligatory for one to listen to and obey (the ruler's orders) unless these orders involve disobedience (to Allah); but if an act of disobedience (to Allah) is imposed, he should not listen to or obey it"'…..

How Does Islam Relate to Christianity and Judaism?
Gary Gutting

The very notion of Abrahamic religions is arguably Islamic. The Quran presents Abraham as an adherent of Islam, but here “Islam” means the primordial faith that connects humanity to one God and leads in turn to Judaism, Christianity and then historical Islam as proclaimed by Muhammad. There are some who view Islam as a faith that supersedes the two earlier monotheistic religions. But I think it’s more useful to understand Islam as a religion that is self-conscious about its relationship to Judaism and Christianity and explicitly takes account of their scriptures and traditions. Almost all the prophets of the Quran will be familiar to those who know the Bible, and the Quran explicitly refers to parables, ideas and stories from the Bible……

The Statement about No Strategy Was Wooden, and It Hurt Obama
Vijay Prashad

The US did not directly train the Islamic State. That is preposterous. IS emerged out of the al-Qaeda of Iraq. It is an Iraqi group that was started by a set of Jordanian militants in 2004. They have in the past few years drawn in a large number of fighters from all over the world. I know that they crossed over from Turkey. Many of them came with rudimentary training, but with a fierce commitment to the fighting……

 

Adis Duderija on Islam, Muslims and Interfaith Dialogue
Adis Duderija

To understand how Muslims have approached (and still approach) interreligious dialogue, in addition examining scriptural sources more needs to be said about the context in which Islam first appeared.  The context of the emergence of Prophet Muhammad’s message in seventh century Arabia as evident in the Qur’an was such that it took place alongside other already well-established religious communities, most important of which were, apart from Arabian pre-Qur’anic beliefs, Judaism, Hanifiyyah (Arabian monotheism based on the faith of Abraham) and Christianity. It is important to note in this context that the very fabric and nature of the Qur’an clearly depicts many of the events and the nature of the relationship between the Muslim community and the non-Muslim Other during the revelatory period. Here it is essential to point out that the Qur’anic attitude (and, therefore, the Prophet Muhammad’s praxis) towards the religious Other was highly contextual in nature and therefore context-dependent, if not ambivalent……

What you find in IS-controlled territories is brutal violence. Everyone who does not follow a very one-sided, al Qaeda-type style of Islam is regarded as an enemy and is persecuted and killed. But IS draws its strength in Iraq primarily from Sunni Arabs who were privileged under Saddam Hussein, and who became the losers in his overthrow in 2003. Contrary to promises, the Sunnis have not been represented in government. Many of these very frustrated Sunnis have seen an instrument in IS through which they can again be heard. They want to show Baghdad that their interests must be taken into account - and so long as there are no other means for them, they'll use IS…..

 

Salman Rushdie: Inside the Mind of Jihadists
Nathan Gardels

It is very improbable that it would come from the Arab-speaking world. It is more likely to come from the diaspora where Muslims in the West or India have lived with secularism. Muslims are well integrated in India, having long known the secularism to which they adhere protects them and their faith from the dictatorship of the Hindu majority. In Europe, integration has been held up as a bad word by multiculturalists, but I don't see any necessary conflict. After all, we don't want to create countries of little apartheids. No enlightenment will come from multicultural appeasement….

 

Pakistan’s Hindu Temples: It Seems These Sites Have Transcended All Faiths
Reema Abbasi

It seems these sites have transcended all faiths and that’s why often Muslims go to these sites in the belief that something that is so ancient, with such mystique, pulls people and keeps them coming back. Some go for blessings; others believe it’s a place that should be respected for all that it has seen......

 

Maulana Dr. Waris Mazhari: Ninety Percent of the Dars-e Nizami Needs To Be Changed
Dr. Waris Mazhari

There is a desperate need for madrasas to reform both their system as well as curriculum. Their overall system is riddled with problems and weaknesses. I believe that for higher religious studies, madrasas should admit only those students who are genuinely capable of becoming scholars and religious leaders. However, what generally happens is that just about everyone is given admission—and that’s one cause of the generally low standards in most madrasas, and of several other problems, too. And so, in the guise of Ulema or ‘scholars’ a large number of Juhala or ignorant folk are being churned out by the madrasas. Many senior Ulema, past and present, have expressed their concern about this….

Irfan A. Omar on Islam, Muslims and Interfaith Dialogue
Irfan A. Omar

Islam arose in a milieu where Christianity and Judaism were also present. Naturally, people who became Muslims at that time were aware of many of the figures, saints and prophets that were part of Jewish and Christian heritage, such as Abraham. Islam’s view of itself is that it is a continuation of these earlier religions. It recognized them, sought to engage with their adherents and even referred to them as part of the family of religions (ahl-i-kitab). This is the context in which one must locate Islam’s position on dialogue. Islam has been dialogical from its very inception. There have been and are differences between people, and the Quranic formula is to see the differences and diversity of peoples as a strength, rather than as a problem......

 

Pakistan's Tahir Ul-Qadri on Protests
Dr Tahir ul Quadri
My point of view is that the government in spite of being elected with a rigged electoral process, … the government has totally failed 100 percent to fulfill its duties in connection of the rights of people and to fulfill the obligations which have been promised to be fulfilled by the constitution. So the constitution basically is suspended. …

Yes, it’s disastrous. It’s disastrous, both in political terms, which is to say the situation cannot conceivably, certainly in the short run, lead to any positive results, to an improvement in the lives of either Israelis or Palestinians, and of course it’s disastrous in humanitarian terms, the kind of slaughter that’s taking place there. When one thinks that this is what is necessary for Israel to survive, that the Zionist dream is based on the slaughter of—repeated slaughter of innocents on a scale that we’re watching these days on television, that is really a profound, profound crisis—and should be a profound crisis.....

 
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