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Islam and Pluralism

A Mullah refuses to grant permission for the burial of Bulha, a Syed by origin, at a Muslim graveyard, until it is established that he had died a Muslim. The crime for which he is punished posthumously is that Bulleh gave voice to the long suppressed desire of millions of people from this part of the world for peace, brotherhood and religious tolerance and because he stood for the supremacy of truth, love humanity and compassion over religious orthodoxy and dogmatism.


If class and religious divides are beginning to overlap, it’s time for India to revisit its model of secularism, writes Lord Bhikhu Parekh.

Kashmiriyat is a Prototype for Hindustaniyat
Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam
Kashmiriyat is a Prototype for Hindustaniyat
Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor New Age Islam

At a time when even otherwise sensible intellectuals in India are expressing a Kashmir fatigue and asking us to let it go – to where, nobody says, or, I am sure, knows – it is time for us ordinary Indians to remind them that Kashmiriyat is a prototype for Hindustaniyat. We just cannot let go of either.

But political connection is not the only or even the main connection we have with Kashmir. Kashmir’s deepest connection with the Indian nation is, of course, in the spiritual realm. Kashmir has been a permanent part of our mindscape. Where else but in Kashmir would you find Muslims prepared, not so openly perhaps in the present milieu, to claim their Vedic and Buddhist heritage.

 Kashmir is important for our politicians, mandarins and intellectuals perhaps as vote-bank, or real estate, or as a debating point. But Kashmir is important for us common Indians because Kashmiriyat is a prototype for Hindustaniyat. A unique blend of unity in ideological diversity, Kashmir has survived many crises all through its history with its Kashmiriyat intact. If you know present-day Kashmir, you would have no hesitation in believing that it would survive the present one as well with its essence unharmed.


The best exponents of Kashmiriyat have been the rishi-sufis of Kashmir. It is they who have traditionally sustained Kashmir through all its myriad trials and tribulations. It’s time we once again recalled their insights and wisdom. The following is a paper by Sultan Shahin, editor, NewAgeIslam.com, on Kashmir’s Rishi-Sufi order and its precious gift known in the valley and beyond as Kashmiriyat, a unique blend of what the world today is trying to emulate as multi-culturalism, secularism, pluralism, tolerance and much more.


URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-pluralism/sultan-shahin,-founder-editor-new-age-islam/kashmiriyat-is-a-prototype-for-hindustaniyat/d/614

What is all this Shia-Sunni tensions? It is all politics. These antagonisms we have are all politics now. If a Sunni brother somewhere does something wrong you say oh the individual is not being very Islamic, he is a kaffir, But if a Shia does something wrong you want to condemn the whole Shia community, the whole nation of millions, and say they are all rubbish just because one Shias actions are not very Islamic. At the same time where we look the other way if one of your relatives does something serious because he is your father or your uncle. One group of Sunnis says to another "you are not a Muslim" another group of Sunnis says "you are not a Muslim you are a kaffir" look that's among us, and we fight among ourselves. And some of us do funny things.

From a speech By Shaykh Ahmad Deedat, who is a world renowned Sunni scholar from South Africa that was made following his trip to the Islamic Republic of Iran


Before declaring independence, though, let’s keep in mind that this is a particularly combustible country in a generally combustible planet. India gets the most terror attacks in the world after Iraq. A Kashmiri accession to Pakistan — that’s what its independence would amount to — would revive the only partially buried ghosts of partition. That isn’t something we need, please.

Let us not, therefore, speak the language of changing borders — that’s so last century. Let us, rather, speak of something that joins hearts across borders, and eschews both Hindu and Muslim chauvinism, writes SWAGATO GANGULY.


From ancient times the people of Kashmir have enjoyed the reputation of being liberal, tolerant and open-minded. When, for instance, Naga worship, gave place to early Brahminical faith, there was nothing like an ill-feeling, leave alone any violence. Then again, when Buddhism, which held sway over the valley, was supplanted by Brahminical religion, it happened imperceptibly and peacefully… History also tells us that even after Kashmir came under Muslim rule from early fourteenth century, it was the traditional Brahmin class that managed and ran the administration, with Sanskrit as the court language for as long as two hundred years, writes a nostalgic Shyam Kaul about the good old days in these turbulent times.


The main divisive influence in our lives now at the beginning of the 21st century, even ahead of race, is religion. We are witnessing an upsurge of extremism which the psychologists blame on all sorts of reasons. For whatever reason, religion is under threat of being exploited by extremists to achieve their nefarious political agenda, says Dr Khalid Hameed during a dialogue between Hindus and Muslims at the Nehru Centre in London.

He was deeply religious, steeped in the finest tradition of his religion and remarkably knowledgeable about it....The country will miss a brave man who did not let vicious slander lose his perspective and who was a living example of how deep religiosity could go with unshakeable religious tolerance -- an example of unmistakable relevance when Jammu & Kashmir is in flames, writes Hiranmay Karlekar.

Mathias Sendegeya, a Hutu from Rwanda, admits to butchering innocent Tutsis because Hutu Power politicians nurtured hatred in his heart....Many of the killers blame radio broadcasters and politicians who swore to them that they were poor because the Tutsis were hoarding power, privilege and wealth. Mathias is one of many Hutu civilians who say that politicians brainwashed them to kill their own neighbours, writes Fatima Najm.


Bangalore: “Tipu Sultan was known for his religious tolerance. This is a fact that rewriting or ‘saffronisation’ of history will not be able to erase,” said R. Roshan Baig, MLA.


Three of the world's major religions -- the monotheist traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- were all born in the Middle East and are all inextricably linked to one another. Christianity was born from within the Jewish tradition, and Islam developed from both Christianity and Judaism.

 While there have been differences among these religions, there was a rich cultural interchange between Jews, Christians, and Muslims that took place in Islamic Spain and other places over centuries.


Riyadh: A Saudi man working with the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice recently killed his daughter for converting to Christianity.


Saadeddin Ibrahim and allegations on minority rights spark renewed tensions between Cairo and Washington, Dina Ezzat of weekly Al-Ahram, Cairo, reports.


 Islam brought with it to India a very different attitude toward sexuality, which was much closer to eastern Christian notions. Yet, remarkably, Islamic rule did not disturb the long Indian tradition of erotic writing. Between the 15th and the 18th centuries many of the classics of Hindu writing on the erotic were translated into Persian for the use of the princes and princesses of Indian Muslim courts. At the same time there was an explosion of unrestrainedly sensual art and literary experimentation. This was the age of the great poet-courtesans: in Delhi, during the late 18th century, the courtesan Ad Begum would turn up stark naked at parties, but so cleverly painted that no one would notice.

At this period, too, a new specialist vocabulary of Urdu words and metaphors developed to express the poets' desires: the beloved's arms were likened to lotus stalks, her thighs to banana stems, her plaited hair to the Ganges, and her rumauli-a word that was coined to describe the faint line of down that runs down the centre of a woman's stomach, just below her navel-to the River Godavari, writes William Dalrymple, an acclaimed author and historian.


Great injustice has been done in our country to Urdu. This great language, which has produced perhaps the best poetry in modern India -Mir, Galib, Firaq, Faiz, etc. - and is a shining gem in the treasury of Indian culture, is today neglected and almost looked at with suspicion. I cannot imagine a greater foolishness, says Justice Markandey Katju, Judge, Supreme Court of India.


Unrest in Jammu & Kashmir over the Amarnath land transfer order might have assumed violent overtones, but Muslims sang wedding songs for a Kashmiri Pandit girl in a declaration of genuine neighbourly love. Suman Koul, daughter of Pushkar Nath Koul, got married to Ravinder Zutshi from Ganderbal district amid wanwun (traditional Kashmiri wedding songs) sung by her Muslim neighbours in Karfali Mohalla of Habba Kadal area. The Muslim women, too, joined the party by welcoming Zutshi’s baraat with songs, while men garlanded the groom.


The way out of the mess is for the state to commit itself to secularism; to offer full religious freedom, while striving to keep religion out of the public sphere. Leaving all considerations of principle aside, secularism is the only ideology that can make a multifaith society work. The alternative is a future of competitive religious grievance and unremitting vexatious litigation. Columnist Nick Cohen in The Observer, London.


A recent article in the Monitor reported on an inter-religious conference sponsored by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in July, and stated, "Top-tier religious leaders in the Muslim world are emerging as major proponents of dialogue with Christians and other world faiths.... Those involved see the initiatives, if sustained, as breaking down misperceptions, strengthening mainstream religious voices on the world stage, and diminishing the influence of extremism" ("A global bid to connect Muslims and Christians," July 29 ).


Given that jihadist violence—seen by many people as a by-product of reactionary Saudi theology—has touched the kingdom itself, as well as cities like New York and London, the king has every incentive to use his influence to steer global Islam in a more moderate direction. But to succeed abroad, he may need to succeed more at home, and that looks very hard.


In the Quranic worldview, the term Ummah Muslima or the Muslim nation encompasses all the prophets and their rightly guided followers, the nations of Abraham, of Jacob and Moses and of Jesus and Muhammad. It is altogether a different story that today we Muslims appear to have patented the word Muslim which simply means submission per se, says Rashid Shaz  in a speech delivered at Crans Montana Forum in Monaco recently.


The basic idea of the conference initiated by King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia was that many conflicts and wars in the world are launched on religious grounds, and that an effort must be made to deal with them. The three-day conference in Madrid attracted followers of a wide range of religions who had the opportunity to talk to each other and discuss the role that religions can play in establishing peace and harmony in the world. Fahad Al-Qurashi of Saudi Gazette reports.


The deep communal chasms between Hindus and Muslims must be bridged — but it is unclear if J&K’s politicians have the will or imagination needed to do so, writes Praveen Swami in The Hindu, New Delhi.


The Dalai Lama said that "it's totally wrong, unfair" to call Islam a violent religion. The Tibetan spiritual leader, appearing on Sunday at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, offered a defence of Islam in response to a question about the rise of violent religious fundamentalism. He added that he has made a point of reaching out to Muslims since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.


From the CEO of a TV channel to a one-man placement agency, Indians are making their presence felt in Kabul. Security concerns may have restricted their social life to occasional evenings at Indian restaurants and visits to gurdwaras and temples, but attacks like the recent one still don’t deter them. THE word ‘Hindustani’ works like magic in Kabul. It opens welcoming doors, brings out smiles and an odd hug, and even reduces the haggling cab driver to a Bollywood music show-off. For the small Indian community in the Afghan capital—mostly professionals working on major developmental projects—the respected Hindustan tag is reason enough to stick on to Kabul despite an upscale of violence,  writes Manu Pubby in this special report.


For the first time in secular India, Ahmadiyas have been denied permission to hold a meeting despite a High Court order allowing them to do so. The Andhra Pradesh Government gave in to Muslim protests, led by MIM, and threats of violence

The recent cancellation of a State-level meeting of the Ahmadiya Jamat in Hyderabad following protests from all the sects of the Muslim community marks a new chapter in over a century-long struggle between the two sides.

Though Ahmadiyas, with distinctly different religious belief from Muslims, have been around ever since its founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed in 1889 that he was the 'new prophet' and Muslims have always treated the claim as blasphemous and opposed it, this is first time that a public meeting of Ahmadiyas had to be cancelled in India due to the resistance from orthodox Muslims. Pioneer correspondent Omer Farooq reports from Hyderabad.

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