Books and Documents

Islam and Pluralism

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.


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.

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