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Books and Documents

Islam and Pluralism

While western-style secularism calls for a strict separation of state and church Indian secularism, some of whose features are anticipated in Akbar's liberal principle of Din-i-Ilahi, recognises the coexistence of many faiths and spiritualities.  -- A Times Of India editorial comment

We have room for all faiths at the Dargah in Ajmer Sharif, in Darbar Sahib (whose foundation stone was laid by Mian Mir) or San Thome. Fewer Pakistanis understand that it is easy or natural for an Indian to listen to Jafar Hussain Badayuni's rendering of Amir Khusro's `Bahut kathin hai dagar' or `Ek pita ekas ke hum baarek' by Bhai Maninder Singh and Bhai Jitender Singh or `Jai Madhav Madan Murari' by Jagjit Singh on any morning. In Pakistan today, we see images of mullahs leading a march to medievalism. In India, we see the young and exuberant marching into the 21st century. We are still behind the rest of the advanced world but are determined to catch up. Across the border, they wallow in a sense of victimhood, and blame everyone else for their plight. -- Vikram Sood

POINT: The Miserable End of Jews – the Followers of Falsehood will suffer humiliating Torment and Perish. Jews are an accursed community and Muslims have to fight them till the end - An essay by A’bdullah U’smani in the light of Qur’an and Sunnah in the Urdu Daily Sahafat, Delhi

Translated from Urdu by Syed Raihan Ahmad Nezami

(Can one really fault the world, with these kinds of views expressed in mainstream Muslim Press and no protests against them, for thinking that the entire Muslim community is potentially a community of terrorists? -- Editor.) 

Counterpoint: Why Muslims Are Powerless? A compilation of statistics showing the brilliant success Jews have acquired in almost every field of human endeavour (apparently by the grace of God, Editor) -- Dr Shabbir Ahmed

Muslims forbidden from participating in Valentine’s Day celebration

No love lost: Religious police see red _ or not _ as Valentine's ban

takes over Saudi Arabia by DONNA ABU

On Valentine’s Day by Fouzia Khan

Presented here is an evolving proposal/plan to amicably resolve the Ram Mandir/Babri mosque issue that has continued to ignite communal passions in India for so long. Currently, a bulk of this plan is from the point of view of the Indian Muslims, though it may not be agreeable to all Muslims. Our basic proposal is that the Indian Muslims should withdraw their claim on the Babri Masjid land on certain conditions that ensure safety of further monuments, and peace in this country.

The broader roots of the eruption of protest in China's far-west region of Xinjiang lie in the experience of the Uighur people under Beijing’s rule, says Yitzhak Shichor.

 

New Delhi must not view the elections as signalling a return to “business-as-usual” in the politics of the State. -- Amitabh Mattoo

Time to give J&K its promised autonomy -- Govind Talwalkar

 

This book (Ms. Saral Jhingran’s systematic study of madrasas system in a historical perspective) will greatly help in dispelling many misunderstandings prevalent among non-Muslims and to an extent among Muslims themselves. The critique developed by her invites orthodox Muslims to reflect seriously as to what modern madrasas should be like. Many Muslim modernists have also developed such critique. This book on the whole will be quite useful for scholars as well as for lay people.

 Her fear about madrasa system seems to be that it creates sense of separate identity among Muslim children. While this criticism may be valid from her point of view question is in a diverse and now polarized society like India can we avoid such separate sense of identity? Our whole political system is thriving on religious, caste, ethnic and linguistic identities and sub-identities. Though there is nothing wrong with separate identities what is wrong is its politicization. -- Asghar Ali Engineer

When clerics in Malaysia banned Muslims from practising yoga, they started a heated debate in the Islamic world. But Islamic scholars in India, including those at the Darul Uloom Deoband, say they do not find anything objectionable in Muslims practising yoga. Chanting mantras like Om that have religious connotation, they add, is not necessary for yoga and Muslims can replace them with verses from the Quran or references to Allah.

“Yoga is a good form of exercise. If some words, which are supposed to be chanted while performing it, have religious connotations, then Muslims need not utter those. They can instead recite verses from the Quran or praise Allah or remain silent,” Maulana Abdul Khaliq Madrasi, deputy vice-chancellor of the Darul Uloom, told The Indian Express.

Ever since I read about some Mullahs asking Muslims in India and Malaysia to stay away from yoga camps, I was wondering what could be so threatening about Yoga. Is our faith so brittle that we would cease to remain Muslim if we just learn to do yogic exercises, now recommended by doctors, particularly cardiologists and surgeons after heart by-pass surgery or to those with high blood pressure? In fact Yoga is useful to patients of an assortment of illnesses, and also as a preventive health-care technique. If practised regularly yogic meditational techniques can lead to beautiful and extremely rewarding spiritual experiences too.

Now the cat is out of the bag. Maulana Nadeem-ul-Wajidee tells us: “Muslims must abstain from Yoga Camps as the Faith cannot be endangered for the sake of physical fitness. After all, the protection of Faith is more important than the health and physical beauty.”

Now how does our faith get endangered by Yoga? Well, the yoga teacher makes us occasionally chant “Om” and at least one teacher sometimes recites verses from Islam’s earliest scriptures, the Vedas.

I have no cure, at least in the short run for our Mullah’s cave mentality, their deep-seated prejudices, amounting to hatred of Islam’s earlier scriptures. If Allah and the Holy Quran cannot make them respect His earlier prophets and their revealed books, despites repeatedly, scores of time, instructing them to do so, who am I to presume these people can be cured of their cave mentality. But learning Yoga may be an urgent requirement for some Muslims. So some of us could learn it from Nastik Hindu teachers and then ourselves teach it to our people. Having leant Yoga after my surgeon’s advice following a heart by-pass surgery, I can assure you that chanting Om is not at all necessary. You may do yoga without a chant altogether or you may supplant it with the word Allah or Allahu or whatever and it would work equally well. Reading from religious scriptures is not at all necessary, but if you wish you can very well read verses from the Holy Quran while teaching Yoga. Islamise Yoga, if you have to, but learn it, practise it and teach it to fellow Muslims, and of course, to fellow human beings. -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, NewAgeIslam.com

2 Bengal madrasas turn a chapter, more Hindus than Muslims on rolls
Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
2 Bengal madrasas turn a chapter, more Hindus than Muslims on rolls
Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

Kolkata: Madrasas across the country may be under the scanner for imparting Islamic fundamentalist teachings and accused of being factories of narrow orthodoxy, but in West Bengal, there are at least two where Hindu students outnumber Muslims. Located about 110 km from Kolkata, the Orgram Chatuspalli High Madrasa in Burdwan district and Kasba MM High Madrasa in Uttar Dinajpur district are known for their academic excellence and secular credentials. While at Orgram, 64 per cent — 555 of the 883 students — are Hindus, at Kasba, 647 of 1,069 students, or 60 per cent, are Hindus. -- Shiv Sahay Singh

---

There are some pre-requisites for the policy of equivalence to succeed. First of all there has to be an all India madrasa Board. All madrasas, including the independent ones, have to be compulsorily part of this board. This Board should adopt a common curriculum for all madrasas, which would include modern subjects and English. Sufficient numbers of trained teachers for this purpose should be provided for the Board. -- Arshad Alam

 

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'

 
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