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Interview

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.....

 

The other side of it is that the Muslims in Nigeria did not also understand because the two parties were supposed to have played a good game in addressing this but the Christians now want to play the blame game and the Muslims want to play the defense game so when these two parties were busy defending themselves, permit me to say that our government that’s supposed to act as the sole authority that’s supposed to maintain law and order now hides under these debates: “You’re the cause of this, there is a meeting between Muslims you eliminate Christians, No, no, no, these people are not Muslim. Probably they are Christians hiding as Muslims to cause problems.”…..

 

This is the DNA of Israel. Israel has always over-reacted to resistance from Palestinians. And you have seen this one after the other – Operation Cast Lead, the First Lebanon War, the Second Lebanon War, the operations in Gaza and the fight against the Second Intifada. It has always been the same language of disproportionate aggression.....

 

I believe, based on conversations with locals, such as the Kurdish leaders, that they have been warning for some months before about the rise of ISIS and the threats that they were going to present to Maliki’s government — they didn’t take it seriously — and to others, including ourselves. And I think we underestimated the rapidity with which the situation changed. …

 

Vijay Prashad: ‘ISIS Won’t Impact India — But Funding Sheikhs Will Taste Blowback’
Vijay Prashad

But will IS make any moves on India? That’s unlikely. It’s absorbed in its strategy of expansion, moving from Ramadi-Fallujah to Mosul, Tikrit and so on. This is a largely parochial movement that masquerades as a planetary one. It is an Arab movement with ambitions only in West Asia — it is not a threat in any direct way.....

 

Girls, because of gender barriers and cultural issues, are not permitted to make this journey. In Pakistan, girls have a lower literacy rate than boys because the distance children must often travel to school prevents girls from attending. Many families also do not want their daughters getting an education in the same school as boys. There are also very few female teachers in the rural areas in Pakistan. Poverty and the weak governmental education system are pushing more children into religious schools, called Madrasas, because they provide food.……

 

Pran Nevile: Lahore A Part of Me
Aasim Akhtar

So what draws me to Lahore? I feel so much at home here even all by myself. Walking along the Mall, I can still recognise the landmarks that I left — Dinga Singh Building, Shahdin Building, Feroz Sons, Dayal Singh Mansions, the High Court, E Plomer — they are all there for the last one hundred years. From Charing Cross to the GPO, it’s much the same save a few new structures. I go to Anarkali Bazaar and to the Walled City where I spent my childhood. I’ve been practically all over the globe right up to Latin America but nothing quite compares to Lahore…..

 

The funny thing is, of course, that all these extremist groups, they come up, they fight among themselves, they boomerang from Iraq to Syria, to Lebanon, but no one does any harm to Israel. Isn’t that strange?....

 

The Saudi government is very concerned that the violence spread by ISIS militants could also be directed against Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the Saudi government's stance is somewhat split. Saudi Arabia could theoretically prevent the flow of money toward ISIS, but it does not do so - probably out of concern that such a move could lead to internal political turmoil. The government, therefore, sees ISIS as a danger, but there are rich Saudis who see in ISIS a spiritual ally against the Shiites……

 

The Battle for the Soul of Pakistan
Sophie Shevardnadze

We need to think about the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is that it’s not just Americans; many other countries also are getting concerned about Pakistan as a Petri dish for global terrorism. Most of the people arrested in Europe have had some kind of relationship – either they went through Pakistan or were in Pakistan when they became radicalized, and those are things that we need to address for ourselves. So a radical Pakistan which is also nuclear is definitely a problem. But a nuclear Pakistan that is responsible and takes responsibility for its nukes? …….

 

Sunnification of Pakistan is a Real Threat: Arif Jamal, US Based Pakistani Scholar
Arif Jamal

Unfortunately, instead of fighting sectarianism, the Pakistani state has continuously and actively encouraged and supported Deobandi and Ahle Hadith sectarian groups and organisations because they were ready to fight jihad in Kashmir and Afghanistan. Another important reason for this was that Saudi Arabia was continuously forcing Pakistan to keep Barelvis and Shias out of both Kashmir and Afghan jihad. This is why we see only Deobandi and Ahle Hadith groups participating in jihad in Kashmir and Afghanistan. As a concession to the Deobandi/Ahle Hadith groups fighting in Kashmir and Afghanistan on behalf of the Pakistani military, the government turned a blind eye to the sectarian terrorism in the country. As a result of these policies, Pakistan is on the road to become a Sunni state. I believe the Sunnification of Pakistan is a threat to both Pakistan and world peace. .....

 

'Help Us Fight the War in Afghanistan'
Suhasini Haidar

I clearly see the constraints to helping us. But India should also be clear what the goal of this assistance is? Help for what? The goal should be a more secure future for us both. It wasn’t a small decision for Afghanistan to sign India as its first strategic partner, given the geopolitical situation that surrounds Afghanistan. We took that decision because we wanted to secure our future together. Now that future needs tough decisions, needs risky decisions…..

 

Egypt Salafist Party Leader Defends Decision to Back Sisi
Enas Hamed

When it comes to electoral alliances, we have no problem with opening channels of communication and forming alliances with prominent political parties. However, according to the conditions and standards set by the party, we currently have no proposals for potential alliances with specific parties. The claims about the Nour Party allying with the leftist National Progressive Unionist Party and the liberal Conference Party are unfounded……

 

‘Revoking Article 370 Means Burning the Bridge between J&K and India’
Praveen Swami

Well, if Mr. Modi goes ahead and fulfils his poll promises, he will end up severing Jammu and Kashmir from the rest of the country. That is what Mr. Modi will do. He has promised to revoke Article 370 from the Constitution, which means that the constitutional bridge between Jammu and Kashmir and the Indian Union will be destroyed. This basically means that the structure of Jammu and Kashmir’s position in the Indian Union will be undermined…..

 

Former Muslim Alom Shaha: Why Atheists Should Care About Anti-Muslim Prejudice
Chris Stedman

Although I am an atheist, I nevertheless find it distressing that people can be contemptuous of all Muslims based on their own prejudices about what it means to be Muslim. Some atheists are guilty of this ideological categorization, too, and it bothers me that some of those who really should know better feel that Muslims and non-Muslims cannot, by definition, get along…..

Hamid Mir himself has never been above controversy. He is known to have liaisons with some unseemly characters like Malik Ishaq of LeJ, which cannot perhaps be explained away on the ground of an exercise in investigative journalism. He has been described as India-phobic and Indian agent in the same breath. Some people insist vehemently that he is an ISI agent, and claim to have proofs to back their claim. But what can be said without fear of contradiction is that he has had close relations with Osama and other Al Qaida figures....

 

Q: How did Islam come to be used as a justification for terrorism among Saudis?

A: It is a matter of how a group of so-called clerics interpret, or misinterpret, Islam. In Surat Al 'Imran of our Holy Book, it says, "No one knows [the Qur'an's] true interpretation except God, and those who are well-grounded in knowledge say, 'We believe in it. All of it is from our Lord.'" But some clerics stop in the middle of the verse, and just say, "No one knows [the Qur'an's] true interpretation except God and those who are well-grounded in knowledge." Then they put it to you that they alone are well-grounded in knowledge, and go on to use the half-sentence as a divine mandate for their own authority. If we claim that our religion is a peaceful religion, calling for peace between nations and between religions, then these false foundations need to be addressed…..

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