Islam and Human Rights
Clearly, both secular and religious societies have tried to control the practice of homosexuality but failed. It is time now for them to come to terms with ground reality and accept the demand for legalisation of this widespread practice. Though science is still not very clear about its genetic roots, given its spread across the length and breadth of the world spanning all secular and religious societies, it should be accepted as coming to human beings as a natural “affliction.” If so, both secular and religious societies should try and come to terms with it.
Islam is better placed than all other religions to come to terms with continuing or changing ground realities. It has the institution of ijtihad (rethinking, reform), as a part of its orthodox practice. It’s time Muslims decided to open the closed gates of Ijtihad and discussed and changed the laws regarding homosexuality, among a whole host of other things. -- Shamshad Elahee Ansari
Religious leaders may please keep their religious views private as it should be confined to the followers of their religion. If they have any objection, let them educate their followers on the flip side of homosexuality. Let them not try to impose their views on those who hold pragmatic views. If gays exist, let them exist. In any case they are not new in the society. They have existed in the society from time immoral, though they did not come out in the open for their cause as they do today. One can now see so many gays both men and women come out in the open without covering their faces. That means they have no worry over the possible social stigma to be attached to them. The government therefore has to be very rational and take a pragmatic view before deciding on the legalisation to make homosexuality legal. In any case very few were prosecuted under the penal provisions of Section 377 of IPC. The law itself was 148 years old introduced by Lord Macaulay during the colonial rule and certainly it needs to be reviewed keeping the present situation in mind. -- A.M. Jamsheed Basha
Siti Musdah Mulia of the Indonesia Conference of Religions and Peace cited the Koran's al-Hujurat (49:3) that one of the blessings for human beings was that all men and women are equal, regardless of ethnicity, wealth, social positions or even sexual orientation. "There is no difference between lesbians and non-lesbians. In the eyes of God, people are valued based on their piety," she told the discussion organized by non-governmental organization Arus Pelangi. "And talking about piety is God's prerogative to judge," she added. "The essence of the religion (Islam) is to humanize humans, respect and dignify them." Musdah said homosexuality was from God and should be considered natural, adding it was not pushed only by passion. Mata Air magazine managing editor Soffa Ihsan said Islam's acknowledgement of heterogeneity should also include homosexuality. -- Abdul Khalik
Traditional Patriarchal Norms
Paradoxes: Doctrine versus Reality
Tolerance of Homosexuality in Middle-Ages Christianity
Christian Intolerance of Homosexuality and Hypocrisy
The Hebrew Book of Leviticus
Attained Gay Marriage Rights Across the World
The Nature of Homosexuality
Persecution of Ahmadiyas, Ismailis in Pakistan
The Taliban have begun harassing Ismaili Muslims in Pakistan. They would not spare any one and will not be satisfied until the last person left obeys them. If this trend is not checked and criticized, they may think that they have the approval from the Muslims. They don't. They need to know clearly and loudly that their ideology has no currency among Muslims and above all, their cruelty is not Islam, not one bit....
The persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan is a living example; they cannot even say "As Salaam u Aliakum" or call their place of worship a Masjid. The epidemic has now crawled over into Bangladesh and Indonesia as well. Did the Pakistani lawmakers even pause to think about the legitimacy of Hudood Laws? Some thirty years later another Avatar of Zia ul Haq employed the same strategy of fear and got the Patriot Act passed here in the United States. Both the laws are a stain on the civil societies....
As Muslims, we do not have the time to do the Ijtihaad, the consultative decision making process on issues of the day. As a result we Muslims have been reduced to rituals, rather than the spirit. It is time to believe in the prime value of Islam; freedom. -- Mike Ghouse
Well-known Pakistani journalist and human rights activist Mariana Baabar wrote a rather nostalgic piece about the Sikhs fleeing Swat Valley as Pakistan army launches operations against the Taliban in the region. It first appeared in The News, Karachi and later in the weekly newsmagazine Outlook, New Delhi. In his column in The Times of India, Hindutva ideologue Tarun Vijay called it a “fictional defence of the barbarians” the like of which he had only come across in “the propaganda sheets of Goebbels and Saddam Hussein.” We present both views for a better appreciation of the treatment being meted out to the Sikhs by the Jizya-wielding barbarians, the Taliban, as the “Islamic’ government of Pakistan surrendered the Swat valley to them in a peace deal that has now come unstuck, leading to an all-out war between the two which has taken hundreds of lives and disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands, making them refugees in their own lands. -- Editor
State within a state
The Taliban in Orakzai Agency are reported to have occupied three homes and ten businesses belonging to Sikhs, to press for their demand that 'jaziya', a tax imposed non-Muslims, be paid. The militants had previously demanded a sum of Rs 50 million, which they later reduced to Rs15 million. This of course is extortion. There is no other name for it..... It is sad our legislators have not spoken up for the rights of the minorities who live in Taliban-controlled areas. Even in cities still outside Taliban rule, they have been targeted for violence and victimized. These most vulnerable of citizens need to be protected. – Editorial in The News, Islamabad
Malaysia bans secret conversion of minors
Although the Malaysian Cabinet’s decision to ban the conversion of minors without the consent of both parents and to make it law to raise children according to the common faith of the couple at the time of marriage, even if one of them later converts, is a welcome move towards empowering minorities in this multi-religious, multi-cultural country, optimism over the news needs to be tempered with caution.
The decision was taken after the widely publicised case of Ms M Indira Gandhi was brought to the notice of the Malaysian Government. Ms Gandhi — an ethnic Indian Hindu — has been fighting a legal battle against her husband who recently embraced Islam and converted their three children to the religion— all minors — without her consent. The husband is said to have gone into hiding with the youngest of the three, baby Prasanna, aged one.
But in the wake of the Cabinet decision the Ipoh High Court granted Ms Gandhi custody of all her children. She is now battling to be reunited with her infant child and see to it that all her children remain Hindus as the country’s Sharia’h Department has already taken note of their conversion. Ms Gandhi’s case is one of many reflecting the underlying social tensions plaguing this Muslim-dominated country. -- The Pioneer Edit Desk
A workshop entitled “Jews of Yemen” that was held last Saturday in Sana’a condemned the intimidation and discrimination that Jews face in Yemen. The workshop was organized by the Women’s Forum for Studies and Training and by the online news website Al-Tagheer. Attended by a number of human rights activists, the workshop called for a review of Yemeni constitution and laws that discriminate against Yemeni Jews. It demanded that the rights of the Jewish minority in Yemen are guaranteed as they are guaranteed to all Yemenis and to end all practices that violate these rights. The workshop also called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Expatriates to deal humanely with Yemeni Jews who emigrate in the same way that they deal with all other emigrating Yemenis, and to give Jews all their rights as citizens. It also demanded that the two ministries follow up issues and concerns of Yemeni Jewish expatriates abroad and give them the opportunity to participate in all activities. -- Mohamed Bin Sallam
Defend the right to offend the religious
Ever since 2006, when Muslims worldwide rioted over newspaper cartoons picturing the prophet Muhammad, Western countries, too, have been prosecuting more individuals for criticizing religion. The "Free World," it appears, may be losing faith in free speech. ... History has shown that once governments begin to police speech, they find ever more of it to combat. Countries such as Canada, England and France have prosecuted speakers and journalists for criticizing homosexuals and other groups. It's the ultimate irony: free speech curtailed for the sake of a pluralistic society.... Religious orthodoxy has always lived in tension with free speech. Yet Western ideals are based on the premise that free speech contains its own protection: Good speech ultimately prevails over bad. There's no blasphemy among free nations, only orthodoxy and those who seek to challenge it. -- Jonathan Turley
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
One Major Farooq, of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), exchanged harsh words with Khankhel, and he was told to be careful when dealing with the armed forces....
In the past year four journalists have been reportedly killed by the security forces in the Swat, twenty over the last two year period. Journalists, particularly reporting in the war torn NWFP on its destroyed houses, schools and hospitals, observe that security forces are generally hostile toward them, and each reporter has experiencing problems during investigations, some receiving death threats. The motive, as explained by the journalists, is to keep the reporters out of the area. Journalist Mr. Hameedullah’s house was bombed on his return to his village on 5 January, 2009. They and other residents had been forced to evacuate the area on 28 December, when the army launched an offensive against the Taliban.
Although there are conflicting reports about Khankhel's killing; most of the reports point in the same direction. After the ‘war on terror’, the impunity enjoyed by security agencies saw a dramatic rise in cases of torture, abduction, disappearance and the murder of government opponents. There are more than 4000 persons disappeared for their resistance to military operations in different part in the country, and the AHRC last year determined the existence of 52 clandestine detention centres. Still, ‘unknown’ actors are publicly blamed for many of the area's most violent crimes.
PAKISTAN’S human rights star Asma Jahangir visited India to compile a fairly damning report on the state of religious freedoms and beliefs in the country. That she was invited by the Indian government to travel to the various hot spots and meet officials concerned and victims of bigotry across the country, including the sensitive state of Jammu and Kashmir, speaks for New Delhi’s maturity in giving her free access. It must have taken something for it to accept a Pakistani as the UN’s rapporteur on religious freedoms and beliefs in India.
I envy Ms Asma Jahangir’s easy access with the Indian government and her ability to make important criticisms without putting her Indian visa at risk. I envy her because as a correspondent with an international news group in Delhi years ago, it was frustrating to see my fellow foreign journalists being given visas to cover events like elections in Pakistan, while I was not even considered because Indian journalists were, and still are, not trusted by the Pakistani government. -- Indian Journalist Jawed Naqvi in The Dawn, Karachi
Syed Soharwardy states that honour killings have nothing to do with Islam. I do not believe this to be an accurate statement. A Sunni manual of Islamic law, Umdat al-Salik, states, "retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right." (Umdat al-Salik o1.1-2). However, there is an exemption to this obligatory retaliation. Mothers, fathers and grandparents can kill their children or grandchildren without penalty under this law. Perhaps Soharwardy is not aware of this particular ruling, says Ted Williams.
What is the reality of Islam and Human Rights? ask Canadian Muslims as do Muslims around the world.
In our prayers for the poor and oppressed of this world, including those in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, we can be somewhat forgiven for ignoring the plight of more than a quarter million ghetto dwellers in squalid camps in Bangladesh. These are the Biharis, forgotten remnants of the Indo-Pakistan partition, and there are very few voices that bring their destitute conditions to the fore… Camp conditions are miserable, and large groups of families are often forced to share their living area with animals. They have no rights, limited job options and few economic prospects. They are refugees. Although they did not desert their country; their country appears to have forgotten them.… In pre-independence India, they were a Muslim minority in the region of Bihar. At the time of the partition in 1947, many moved to what was then East Pakistan. When civil war broke out between East and West Pakistan, the Biharis sided with the West. Subsequently in 1971, East Pakistan became the independent state of Bangladesh, and these Biharis who had been loyal to Pakistan were denied citizenship because they were deemed as collaborators and had "supported the enemy".
Tariq A. Al-Maeena reminds us of the plight of Biharis in Bangladesh
Saudi Arabians claim to be Wahhabis, followers of what they claim is the purest version of Islam. One of the main blessings of the advent of Islam, we are told is liberation of women. But from time to time we keep getting evidence of the extreme oppression women have to face in this society, as they had to in the Afghanistan run by the Taliban who were products of the Saudi educational system. We in India too have a large number of madrasas run with Saudi largesse and presumably following the same system of education. We know that these madrasas are creating obscurantists with contempt for not only religions other than Islam but also Islamic sects other than their own. Indeed they consider the vast majority of Muslims who belong to other sects or schools of thought as Kafir, and not only that but also as people who should be eliminated from the face of the earth. NewAgeIslam.com would love to be contradicted on this point.
Concepts like forgiveness, tolerance, pluralism, multi-culturalism are alien to the Saudi version of Islam being propagated in India at great expense to the sponsors. If this radical Islamism also spawns terrorism, which may not have been intended to begin with, there should be no surprise. After all Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar are the hottest products of Saudi Isalm.
Fifty-Something Saudi Refuses to Annul Marriage to his Eight-Year-Old Wife