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Books and Documents

Islam and Pluralism

Allah asserts in the Quran that it was within His power that all mankind have a common faith and in His wisdom he bestowed the gift of knowledge and free will on human beings and prescribed that there can be no compulsion in matters of religion. Thus, a human being is absolutely free to choose his faith or even to change it, if I may add. But all human beings are accountable for their beliefs and deeds on the Day of Judgement. The root of the word ‘Kafir’ is ‘k’fr’ which has a wide range of meanings but, in essence, it means ‘to deny’ or ‘to conceal’....

Muslim scholars, political leaders and civic society must emphasize the pluralistic message of the Quran and urgently address the pervasive exclusivist attitude among many Muslims. Neglecting the pluralistic message of the Quran has allowed fringe groups to use anachronistic stereotypes about fellow Muslims, people of other faiths and entire nation-states, to unleash a form of violence rooted in extreme interpretations of Islamic eschatology….

If modern Turkey which has a reputation for secular tolerance and a tradition of moderate Islam converts this enormously significant monument into a mosque, what signal is this sending out to jihadists and other radicals....

Free Speech and Civility in America and in Islam
Sarah Sayeed, Ph.D.
Free Speech and Civility in America and in Islam
Sarah Sayeed, Ph.D.

Some believe that Islam is diametrically opposed to free speech, based on how a small group of Muslims react angrily and violently to cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. But we would perhaps draw different conclusions if we considered free speech hand in hand with our own commitment to civility. In many Muslim societies and families, Muslims are taught that our love for Prophet Muhammad should be greater than our love for family and ourselves, and that loving the Prophet is the way we learn how to be a good Muslim....

 

It is a measure of how far things have unraveled that many Iraqi Sunnis prefer the lunatic Islamic State, or ISIS, than to fight and die for a pro-Iranian Shiite-led government in Baghdad. I have never seen it this bad. The Middle East analyst Simon Henderson captured the disintegration well in an essay in The Wall Street Journal in March, writing, “The violent chaos in Yemen isn’t orderly enough to merit being called a civil war....

 
Who Are The Disbelievers?
Hamza Yusuf, Ed. by Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam

According to the Quran, polytheism is the greatest sin against God. Surely God will not forgive “shirk”, but He will forgive anything less than it for whom He pleases (4:116). The majority of orthodox scholars do not apply this verse to polytheists who have never heard a true message about God….

When man believes in a universally accepted fact, this knowledge is called Ilm al Yaqin. For example, Man believes that the tree has been created by God. This is because of his unsubstantiated belief in the power and existence of God. But when he cuts its stem and puts it under the microscope, he enters another world of knowledge through his perception and observation. Here the knowledge is not based on mere blind faith but on the basis of his own observation. This stage of knowledge is called Aynal Yaqin.He does not stop at this stage because the observation arouses his curiosity to go into the depth of the facts and observation of the inner makings of the stem of the tree.  The intricate, sophisticated and highly disciplined system within the stem leads the seeker of knowledge to the ultimate Truth behind the system and he is overwhelmed by the power, wisdom, artistry and mastery of the Supreme Being. This stage of knowledge is called Haqqul Yaqin, the knowledge of Certainty….

The Sufi and Bhakti tradition in Pakistan and India are two such trends from within Islam and Hinduism respectively, that are focused more on the unity of humanity as a whole, overcoming sectarian divides. Sufism has been prominent in South Asia for the last 10 centuries. The word Sufi means a coarse wool fabric, the type worn by Sufi mystics....

The natural course of policies made in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always had a negative tilt towards the Shia Muslims of the world. Having the privilege of hosting Islam’s most sacred place of worship, they have monopolised the Islamic faith and exploited the concept of pilgrimage as much as possible. After years of exporting its ideology to Pakistan, and many other countries across the Middle-East, and creating fissures in society....

 
What’s wrong with Minority Appeasement?
Sidharth Bhatia
What’s wrong with Minority Appeasement?
Sidharth Bhatia

Minorities do need to feel that their rights are protected and they will not get overwhelmed by the majority. The Hindu, Sikh and Muslim groups in the UK have anxieties not totally dissimilar to the ones of Muslims and Christians in India.....

Why Don’t Saudis Mix With Others?
Ibrahim Al-Ammar
Why Don’t Saudis Mix With Others?
Ibrahim Al-Ammar

In a line at a restaurant, they are much more likely than Saudis to chat to strangers and joke around with people they don’t know. Saudis are more likely to stand quietly. You can see the same split in western cultures as well: Among the Americans, they were more likely to chat with strangers in a public place....

 
No justice for the Tahiras' of Sindh
Manesh Kumar
No justice for the Tahiras' of Sindh
Manesh Kumar

The laws dictate severe punishments for honour-killings and other acts of violence against women. The Supreme Court had declared Jirgas as unconstitutional. The rule book suggests strict punishments for the Vani custom. But these curses are nowhere close to seeing an end; Jirgas are hold in every nook and corner of Sindh, as are girls all over subjected to Vani. The authorities have spectacularly failed at implementing a single law in the province....

 
Response to ‘Kafir and Mushrik in the Light of the Quran’
Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
Response to ‘Kafir and Mushrik in the Light of the Quran’
Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam

What I have simply said is that in verses that refer to the Kafaru among the Jews, Christians and Polytheists, it is referring to a specific group of people whose Kufr is also described in the verse. These are the people of the Prophet’s times displaying a specific behaviour in relation to the Prophet’s mission. The Prophet’s mission has ended. These verses are therefore giving out historical information about those people and their behaviour. The Kufr here is neither usury nor drinking. It is their attitude and behaviour towards the Prophet and the Muslims. Those verses are clearly stated.....

Related Articles:

Kafir and Mushrik in the Light of the QuranThe Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (pbuh) in the Qu’ran (Concluding Part) SummaryWho Is A Kafir In The Quran? (Part 1): 'Kafir,' 'Mushrik' And 'Idolater' Are Not Synonyms

Even if the word ‘kafir’ was used during the time of the Prophet, the socio-political-economic context today is not the same as it was then. Words don’t only have meanings. They also carry connotations. In today’s world, calling someone kafir is akin to saying that person does not deserve a place in this world. Thus calling others ‘kafir’ can sow the seeds of dislike for those others, or even hatred of them....

This article has been written as a response to Mr Naseer Ahmad’s four part article titled ‘Who is a Kafir in the Quran? (Part 4) Defining Kufr. In this article Mr Naseer Ahmad made some statements or inferences that have created confusion about the definition of the word Kafir and also about the term Mushrik. This article aims to clarify the notion about the definition of Kafir and Kufr in the light of the verses of the Quran.....

Related Articles:

Who Is A Kafir In The Quran? (Part 1): 'Kafir,' 'Mushrik' and 'Idolater' are not synonyms

Who Is A Kafir In The Quran? (Part 2): Muslim– Non-Muslim Relationship

Who Is A Kafir In The Quran? (Part 3): Why Kufr Is A Relative Concept While Shirk, Idol Worship Etc. Have Fixed Meanings

Who is a Kafir in the Quran? (Part 4) Defining Kufr

When we have had a concerted political campaign, however opportunistic, which fails to dissociate the atrocities of extreme Islam from the behaviour and ideologies of 'moderate' Muslims living in Australia, we are bound to create pockets of society which feel it is not only their right, but their duty, to stamp out that threat....

 
An Indian’s Love for Lahore
Tanuj Garg
An Indian’s Love for Lahore
Tanuj Garg

Possibly the first Bollywood film that refers to Pakistan in its title was “Welcome to Karachi”. Two Indian bumpkins make their way into Karachi by boat, and the usual madness follows. Some of its content could bother the touchy souls, but if it’s seen in the right spirit, the trailer makes for a great, innocuous laugh....

 
Transcending The Us Versus Them Paradigm
Maryam Sakeenah
Transcending The Us Versus Them Paradigm
Maryam Sakeenah

The pulpit and the Minbar have vital roles in defeating the false us versus them narrative. Both religions contain voluminous and powerful content on tolerance and compassion that needs to resonate to drown this madness in the name of faith. Faith must be the healing, the mending and the force inspiring peacemaking….

 

Disbelief swept social media when the scion of an influential Pakistani Hindu family, Karni Singh, married an Indian woman with much Rajput pomp in Jaipur last week. It was understandable as any mention of Pakistani Hindus conjures up images of a necessarily persecuted minority. Expressions like influential Pakistani Hindu groom as such naturally sound oxymoronic. How has been it possible for Karni’s family to maintain its status and influence? This was the question that baffled many. The likes of Karni do not fit into how Pakistani Hindus are perceived in India. It has a lot to do with the idea of India seen as an ideal one in contrast with flawed Pakistan and prompts a broad-brushed portrayal of Pakistani Hindus as essentially hounded. The depiction cloaks complicated issues of class and caste besides admirable resilience of many Hindus, who have excelled in varied fields despite odds....

Plurality Is At the Heart of Life
Victor Edwin SJ for New Age Islam
Plurality Is At the Heart of Life
By Victor Edwin SJ for New Age Islam

Three, as Christian students of theology we recognise that this diversity/plurality is part of the very design of God and mystery of God. Diversity within nature invites us to recognise 'interdependence' of that exits. The nature works interdependently. Water, soil, Carbon-di-oxide, and sunlight make a joint venture with plants to bring about fruits. Symbolically nature brings forth fruits through a collaborative course of action. In the human world too, when many people from varied backgrounds put their hearts and minds together, they make a contribution to a new and better world.  Diversity teaches us that we are interdependent and we are called to work together to build a better world. Working together we seek unity in diversity not in uniformity....

 
Who is a Kafir in the Quran? (Part 4) Defining Kufr
Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
Who is a Kafir in the Quran? (Part 4) Defining Kufr
Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam

Hadd punishments for kufr relating to God or the spiritual dimension are not prescribed in the Quran as that would violate the right of conscience that the Quran clearly grants to man. Some forms of Kufr may appear to stride both the dimensions - for example, an apostate who turns hostile and carries on activities harmful to a section of the society or the state. Such a person can be punished for the harm that he has caused or can potentially cause but not for apostasy. Apostasy is merely incidental and irrelevant to the case as apostasy is not kufr in the temporal dimension....

The Muslims display a glaring lack of insight of their holy Book, when they judge others who are not followers of the Quran, by the yardstick in the Quran applicable only to the Muslims. This is in direct contradiction to the message of the Quran. In this article, we explore how the Quran shows without any ambiguity, that Kufr is a relative concept, and conduct that would render a Muslim kafir, may not render even an ahl-e-kitab (Jew or Christian) kafir,  let alone a polytheist….

It’s also true that pluralism is a distinctly American value and that respect for divergent faith practices is fundamental to who we are. But the constant, blanket defense of Islam — whether for political expediency or political correctness — also requires the United States to ignore some harsh realities of the Muslim world that in other circumstances we would openly condemn as offensive, at the very least, or completely horrific....

 
Who Is A Kafir In The Quran? (Part 2): Muslim– Non-Muslim Relationship
Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
Who Is A Kafir In The Quran? (Part 2): Muslim– Non-Muslim Relationship
Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam

Very clearly, even under the most trying conditions of war spread over 9 years meant to annihilate Islam, the Quran makes a clear distinction between the `kafir’ among the non-Muslims and others. There is not a single verse in the entire Quran that directs the Muslims to treat people of other faiths with anything other than kindness and justice. The war is only against the kafir among them for the exclusive kufr of:

a)      Those who fight the Muslims for their faith and drive them out of their homes.

b)      Those who break their treaties and fight or aid other enemies of the Muslims

There is no verse in the Quran that asks the Muslims to fight with the Kafir for any other form of kufr such as: Blasphemy, ridicule, rejecting faith etc

To summarize, the Quran does not identify kafir by his/her belief system or faith but by certain specific characteristics that make the person an active enemy of Religion, God and the people of faith. A kafir is one who actively hinders people from practicing their faith, persecutes people of faith, opposes humanitarian practices such as giving of charity, shunning usury etc. A kafir could be a Muslim, Jew, Christian, polytheist, atheist and the term is faith neutral.

An important corollary of my comment/article below, is that:

The Kafaru among the Christians, Jews and Pagans that the Quran refers to, are necessarily the Kafaru of the Prophet's times.

Since the Quran does not identify the kafaru by their faith or belief systems, none of these verses apply to any of the people today.

The proof that I have provided for this conclusion, is as strong as any proof in the sciences.

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