Books and Documents

Islam and Pluralism

Becoming more attentive to the present moment can improve our cognition

SEEING IS DECEIVING:  ONE OF the most stunning revelations of modern psychology is how wrong our perception can be. We can be deluded about our parents and friends, our jobs, our finance and even our bodies. This makes us quick to judge others and life harshly, missing the goodness and losing out on the way. The only way we can alter our perception or cognition, as it is also known, is by becoming aware of our thoughts and how these influence our feelings and reactions. -- RITU BHATIA

CHANGING THE WAY YOU SEE THE WORLD: Altering your mood is easy once you learn to use cognitive therapy to help you change your perception of the people and events in your lives and acquire a positive view of everything --RITUPARNA MUKHERJEE

photo: Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh


SWAMI VIVEKANANDA ON ISLAM: “Principles that we practise in our day-today life constitute the philosophy of nature and are likely to be a more acceptable religious philosophy of the enlightened future generation. Except in the religious ideology brought by Muhammad, I do not see this aspect effectively and practically implemented and well entrenched. It is my humble assertion that, though Hindu Vedic philosophies are immensely beautiful, without the day-today practical applications and approaches of Islam, they (Vedic principles) may not adequately serve the humanity.”

Swami Vivekananda on Wealth, Health and Character: “If you have lost your wealth, you have lost nothing; if you have lost your health, you have lost something; if you have lost your character, you have lost everything.”

THE DISCOVERY OF INDIA - by: Jawaharlal Nehru

(Excerpts about Swami Vivekananda)

New Age Islam is delighted every time a Hindutva or radical Islamist leader talks of the abiding values of Indian secularism, even berating it for its flaws and inadequacies. Indian secularism stands for equal respect for all religions. Both Hindutvaites and radical Islamists normally chant – Death to Secularism – Hindutvaites openly and radical Islamists in their hearts. At one time radical Islamists too used to denounce secularism openly, now they are more discreet, understand its value for Muslims and try to go along with secularists. 

As a writer Taslima Nasreen has said and written many things, with some of which we at New Age Islam do not agree. But she has done a yeoman’s service in highlighting the plight of Hindu minorities in Islamist Bangladesh and that is her primary identity. She should be a hero for all those who believe in and fight for the rights of minorities in a secular democracy. She should enjoy a special place of reverence in the hearts and minds of Muslims, as the very raison d'être of Islam is a struggle for the rights of weaker sections of humanity. But India’s radical Islamists want to punish her for engaging in this very Islamic struggle and she is a hero for the HIndutvaites who dream of one day being able to drown all the religious minorities of India into the Indian Ocean.

In a similar case, however, the position is reversed. Teesta Setalvad, another woman writer who fights for the rights of minorities in India is for the radical Islamists a Mujahida – actually they even call her Mujahid, transcending gender inequity in the only case known to us. On the other hand, she is a perfect villain in the eyes of Hindutvaites who call her many names like anti-India, anti-Hindu, etc. and would love to do the same to her that Bangladeshi Islamists have succeeded in doing with Taslima Nasreen.  

We at New Age Islam, however, highlight every paean to secularism sung by either group in the hope that the next time they chant “Death to Secularism” openly or in their hearts their conscience pinches them a little and reminds them of these times when they have to sing paeans to the same deity.

Millions of Muslims across India decided to temper or even cancel festivities on their most cherished week of holy yearly celebrations, Eid al-Adha, which commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son in obedience to God and His mercy upon him as a result, in protest of violent acts committed in the name of Islam by the criminals who murdered so many in Mumbai. According to a Times of India article, "They wore black ribbons, carried placards of peace, sent out emails and SMS's reiterating harmony and put up banners saluting those who died in the 26/11 terrorist attack. This is an act of solidarity with the victims – Hindu, Jew, Muslim, and Christian alike – and this despite the fact that the prejudice and structural injustice that Indian Muslims experience is widespread and systemic. I have always sensed from my readings and studies that Indian Islam, the religion of one of the largest Muslim communities in the world, has always articulated a deeply ethical form of Islam. It historically has been a model to the world of a minority community asserting its identity and simultaneously arguing for a strongly non-violent ethic of religiosity.

Why does the world ignore millions of good simple people when they stand up for non-violence but keep everyone riveted when 20 or so criminals hijack a city? More importantly why is a hijacking a "Muslim event" but not the peaceful protests and statements of solidarity with Hindu victims of millions of people?

We cannot have a deep understanding of the problems facing humanity if this prejudice against peaceful expressions of religion goes on in the media. I know that "if it bleeds it leads" in the media, but the lack of attention to the majority who are peaceful is creating at least as much bleeding as the acts of terrorism, writes, Dr. Marc Gopin, the director of George Mason University's Centre for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution.

Photo caption: Film Star Shabana Azmi: I'll most definitely wear the black band and urge all Indians to do so

100 Sayings of Imam Muhammad b. Jafer As-Sadiq (A.S.)

posted by: Bamar Zarni

1- He who treats people kindly will be accepted as arbiter.

2- To trust everybody in times of injustice and cheating is disability.

3- If problems are added to each other, they will give birth to relief.

4- To recognize the actuality of your friend, you should enrage him. If he keeps up his friendship, he is true friend lest, he is false.

5- Do not appreciate one's affection before you enrage him three times.

6- Do not trust your friend perfectly, because the knockdown of the trustful is incurable.

7- Islam is a definite rank. Faith is one rank higher than Islam. Conviction is one rank higher than faith. People have been given a rank lower than conviction.

8- To remove a mountain is easier than removing faith.

9- Beware of joking, because it causes rancour and drives into malice. Joking is the lesser revilement.

10- The desire for the worldly pleasures causes grief and sadness. Abstinence from the worldly pleasures brings about the rest of both heart and body.

Also: 1. Can Muslims say 'Merry Christmas'? Debate Indonesians


2. Iranian President Ahmadinejad gives festive Christmas speech


According to Holy Quran “Jesus Christ was not crucified and killed but was raised up to heaven. The traditions say that he will reappear again to reclaim the lost humanity from the evil path.” Further the Quran says “Surely we have killed Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the apostle of Allah and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him but it was made dubious to them” (4:157Q) “I will take you and raise you up to me and clear you of those who disbelieve” (3:54Q). These above mentioned Quranic verses do not deny that Jesus was nailed on the cross, but they negate his having expired on the cross. - Haseen Chishti

At a time when stereotypes about madrasas, especially those in eastern UP, as breeding grounds for terrorists have been gaining currency and every succeeding terror attack has boxed Indian Muslims further into neat categories as either educated, patriotic liberals or misinformed, misled fundamentalists, these madrasas are a powerful rejoinder, a heartening testimony to the unspoken, uncelebrated, broad-mindedness and inclusiveness of the common, faceless Muslim. The madrasas we visit have a sizeable number of Hindu students. Salfia currently has 475 students, of whom about 225—almost 45 per cent—are Hindus. In Azizia Islamia, 35 of the 143 students are Hindus. The newly set up Madrassa Faizul Quran operates out of a small makeshift building in an obscure corner of Amari village in Azamgarh district. The maktab has 100 kids, of whom 20 are Hindus. At Arbiya, 22 of the 374 students are Hindus.

An Outlook magazine report by NAMRATA JOSHI

Photo caption: Well versed Ravi Prakash reciting Quran

In the third Global Ethic Lecture in Tübingen in 2003 the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan emphasized: "No religion or ethical system should ever be condemned because of the moral lapses of some of its adherents. If I, as a Christian, for instance, would not wish my faith to be judged by the actions of the Crusaders or the Inquisition, I should be very careful to judge anyone else’s faith by the actions that a few terrorists may commit in its name."

As quoted by Professor Hans Kung in this article.

Also: Muslims, Jews forge ties, understanding as Rabbinical student Jessica Koss wrapped a scarf around her head before entering the Masjid Omar Ibn al-Khattab in LOS ANGELES for Friday prayer service.


Most Islamic studies teachers in Java oppose pluralism, survey

America, Islam and Prejudice by Timothy V. Gatto

Muslim convert introduces 'Islamic Yoga' to UK:

Rakha replaces Hindu mantras with Islamic chants


There Never Was A People Without A Warner (Prophet), Qur'an 35:24

Verily we have sent thee (Muhammad) in truth as a bearer of glad tidings and as a warner: And there never were a people without a warner having lived among them (in the past).

Qur'an 16:36 for we assuredly sent amongst every People an apostle (with the Command) "Serve Allah and eschew Evil": Of the people were some whom Allah guided and some on whom Error became inevitably (established). So travel through the earth and see what was the end of those who denied (the Truth).


2. The Saudis' dubious interfaith agenda at the UN by Donald H. Argue and Leonard A. Leo


3. Bush, other leaders to promote interfaith dialogue at UN by Jane Lampman


4. Muslim, Catholic Dialogue to take place at Islamic Centre of Rochester

Too many Christian-Muslim talks, Catholic cardinal warns

Malaysia Islamic party moves to embrace non-Muslims

Author Provides Brief Intro to Islam for Jews

Non-Muslim NGOs warned: 'Stay out of Muslim matters’


German Islamic website Qantara.de has covered the life of Jews in Turkey - 20,000 Sephardi Jews still live in Istanbul – occasionally. NewAgeIslam.com pieces them together for its readers, courtesy Qantara.de. The three reports in this collection provide a fascinating glimpse into the life of Jews in secular yet Islamic Turkey.

1. Jewish Life in Istanbul: The Guardians of Hope by Kai Strittmatter

2. Jews in Turkey: A Varied History by Baha Güngör

3. Jews in Turkey: A Quiet yet Fragile Happiness by Tobias Asmuth

In a series of reports and articles by scholars NewAgeIslam.com focuses on Islam and Pluralism.

Islam and Pluralism in a Global Era by Dr. Fathi Osman

Islam and Hinduism: Experience of an Evangelist by Jerry Thomas

Islam: Muslims pin hopes on Vatican interfaith talks

Three Outspoken Religious Scholars Slug It Out In a Live Debate: Islam, Christianity & Judaism--Which is the True Religion of Peace?


The Quran states in 2:183 that fasting is prescribed for Muslims now as it was prescribed for those before. One of the periods of fasting in another religion is that during Navratri, during which period our Hindu brothers and sisters do not consume certain kinds of food. 

The festival of Navratri is celebrated with prayers and gaiety. It is a period for self-reflection and getting back to the Source. Likewise, Eid ul-Fitr was celebrated last week by Muslims worldwide after a period of soul-purifying fasting during the month of Ramadan. 

Also: A feature on Navratri, or 'The Festival of Nine Nights'


LAHORE: While Eid is primarily an Islamic event and is usually celebrated with traditional fervour by Muslims, members of religious minorities from the city also joined hands with their Muslim brothers to mark the auspicious day. People from different faiths told Daily Times that they always celebrated Eid with their Muslim friends, adding that they would do so this year as well.


For years, Mecca was the only place in the world where Muslims from different sects offered Namaaz together. But now, it is happening in Lucknow too. It began as a gesture in 2007 and it is already almost a tradition. NewAgeIslam.com takes this opportunity to present as backgrounders views of Maulana Kalb-e-Sadiq, the architect of this show of unity, in an interview with Hindustan Times as well as with academic Yoginder Sikand. Also included are responses of common Muslims to some of his rather strong comments on how “Mullahs are destroying Islam”.

LUCKNOW: Masood Ahmad recalls the hush that fell when he went onstage to announce an unscheduled break during the raging battle between Lord Rama and Ravana, last Dussehra. The huge audience assembled at the Bakshi Ka Talaab ground was not amused. A few even began to boo, till the reason for the interruption was explained. The Ramlila cast — including Rama, Ravana and Lakshman — Ahmad explained, needed to offer namaz and break roza. Not a single protest was heard thereafter. The show resumed only after the actors rolled up their prayer mats post-Namaz and shared the iftari snacks — right on stage.

Also: For generations now, this Muslim family has been organising Durga Puja,

Hindu-Muslim love gets HC's blessing,

And Readers’ Opinions


'There is no wavering in our liberal and secular commitments. We are and will remain an indispensable part of the composite edifice called India. We embody the idea of India,' says the Academic Council of Jamia Millia Islamia in this open letter.

The struggle for Kashmir by the jihadis is thus not just for independence. By their own declaration, they want a Darul Islam there, with the state becoming a part of the Caliphate. We cannot allow, in our national security interests, such a state to emerge on our frontiers. Hence the question of parting with Kashmir cannot arise. We have to go all out to retain Kashmir as part of India wherein Hindus and Muslims can live in peace and harmony, says former Indian Union Law Minister Subramanian Swamy.

Indian Muslims must give up their minority mindset and reach out to the larger India around them… Muslim ulema have made a beginning by urging the community to shun terrorism as not just un- Islamic but anti- Islamic. They must also go a step further by calling upon Muslims to eschew their insularity and proactively engage with the India around them. Only then will they conquer communal discrimination, says analyst Saif Shahin.

Archaeologists have unearthed a 62-foot Buddha statue along with other relics in Bamiyan, central Afghanistan near the ruins of giant statues that were destroyed by the Taliban seven years ago. A report in New York Times

Also a backgrounder: Sultan Shahin’s address to the UN Commission on Human Rights in its 57th Session at Geneva - 19 March – 27 April 2001 – on religious intolerance in the context of the destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban.

Scholars in the West have begun to devote time and space to anti-Western jihadism and Muslim anti-Semitism--and a good thing, too, as these are very much on the contemporary international and Middle Eastern political and military agendas and, I fear, will grow in significance during the coming decades, as the Huntingtonian "clash of civilizations" widens, writes Benny Morris in his review of The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History Edited by Andrew G. Bostom (Prometheus Books, 766 pp., $39.95) and Icon of Evil: Hitler's Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam By David G. Dalin and John F. Rothmann (Random House, 227 pp., $26) in The New Republic.


AHMEDABAD: For the last 40 years, 62-year-old Malti Bhatt has been religiously fasting during the holy month of Ramzan in Ahmedabad. She began this ritual to appease 'Pak Pir Ki Dargah ' in their home. But now, her three daughter-in-laws have also adopted the practice of fasting religiously.


SANA’A, August 3—The Baha'i community in Yemen is concerned that they are being singled out by Yemeni security forces or extremist Islamic groups after four practicing Baha'i were arrested in June 2008. A report by Amel Al-Ariqi in The Yemen Times.

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