Books and Documents

Islam and Pluralism

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.

Elizabeth T. Andrews

Let’s take a broom with us to church next Sunday. Let's dare to walk to the podium in the middle of one more stale sermon and say "Excuse me. Why don't we practice what we preach, cancel today's repetitive lifeless nonsense and go across the street and worship with our black sisters and brothers? And after church, let's throw a get-acquainted picnic for the Muslims who go to that mosque on the corner. "And tonight, instead of the usual blah, blah, blah, let's have a real, all-American meeting and talk about a many-coloured God, a multi-coloured society, and the sheer joy of living in a free society that affords us the delight of differences - to learn from, to embrace and to enjoy,” writes Elizabeth T. Andrews, American Reporter Correspondent, Cartersville, Ga, USA.

Dialogue is the best way to move forward, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah said yesterday as Muslim scholars led by Saudi Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh endorsed his call for opening a dialogue with people of other faiths at the start of a historic three-day summit at the Royal Al-Safa Palace, report Siraj Wahab & Badea Abu Al-Naja of Arab News

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