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Books and Documents

Islam and Pluralism

And pluralism cannot be sold to the majority in universal and colour-blind lingos like equality, fairness, human rights or humanism. Why? Multiculturalism, multiparty democracy and secularism are simply seen as illegitimate colonial legacies that only disadvantage the majority. Pluralism can only be sold to Malay-Muslims instrumentally: pluralism will benefit Malay-Muslims….

 

In his address, New Age Islam Foundation's representative Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi shed light on Swami Vivekananda’s holistic understanding of Islam. He started his speech with a famous quotation from Swami Vivekananda: “For our own motherland a junction of the two great systems, Hinduism and Islam – Vedanta brain and Islam body – is the only hope… I see in my mind’s eye the future perfect India rising out of this chaos and strife, glorious and invincible, with Vedanta brain and Islam body.” Dehlvi stated that “Swami Vivekananda was a great admirer of the core universal values of Islam that he believed to be the sole reason for its survival on earth.”.......

The Qadri Sufi Bulleh Shah of Punjab (1680-1757) held that no religion was better than any other to attain God. He refused to be imprisoned by the mythological boundaries of a sectarian religion and he took free flights in the open sky of thought. He was influenced by the Sant or Bhakti tradition. He freely appreciated and adopted some ‘Hindu’ ideas, seeing God in Krishna, who grazed cows in Brindaban, and in Rama, who invaded Lanka. He had studied and had knowledge of the Upanishads. He accepted the Vaishnava idea of the Grace of God—which is that one cannot achieve anything through one’s own efforts but only by the Grace of God.....

 
Have We Muslims Forgotten the Pious Promise Made by Prophet Muhammad to Christians?
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam
Have We Muslims Forgotten the Pious Promise Made by Prophet Muhammad to Christians?
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam

Those who see these dangerous radicals merely as a law and order problem should explain the rationale behind the mindless act of violence and wanton killing by the terror goons who went door to door asking residents if they were Muslim or spoke Somali - and shot them dead if their answer was 'no'. Nothing could be more appalling and ideologically lethal than the brutal incident of human killing inspired by an obnoxious religious zeal. One could gauge the gravity of this ideological fanaticism by what a mourning Christian woman, Anne Gathigi, a victim of the incident was quoted as saying: “They came to our house at around 8pm and asked us in Swahili whether we were Muslims. My husband told them we were Christians and they shot him in the head and chest.”....

Pakistani Pluralism and the Question of Shariat
Yasser Latif Hamdani
Pakistani Pluralism and the Question of Shariat
Yasser Latif Hamdani

In Pakistan, the state’s constant struggle to define the role of religion in governance and policy has also been reflective of the struggle of the Muslim community in South Asia to define itself politically. The question before us in Pakistan, which is so self-consciously aware of its Islamic identity as a state, is whether those early traditions of classical Islam can be reconciled with the institutions of English common law that we inherited from the British. A failure of imagination has, for the most part, stagnated the growth of reconciliation between these heritages in a country that under its present constitution is a self-declared Islamic republic and where no law that contravenes the dictates of the Quran and the Sunnah, the bedrock of Islamic legal tradition, can exist. To the modern legal mind therefore, Pakistan’s English legal system and Islamic heritage have worked at cross-purposes. By narrowly construing Islamic principles and straitjacketing liberty and freedom, the Ulema have slaughtered Islamic principles and reduced them to medieval laws that seem tragically out of place in the modern world. Unfortunately no real attempt has been made to formulate Islamic jurisprudence as a code of public conduct where jurists and not clerics cull universal principles from the Quran and the Sunnah, classify them, and expound them as a part of civil law or a criminal code. The efforts of the imams in the Eighth and Ninth Centuries have over time ossified and been cast in stone as the final word – Author …..

Ideally, the “showcase” of being a good Muslim should be one that takes place throughout the 12 months of the year, and not just punctuated during Ramadan, since Muslims should be cohesively celebrative in society, without having to compromise their beliefs and principles, and to constantly be a driving force of good values. But even if we feel we have done our best, we can always do better. So, with a few weeks left to Ramadan….

 

In many places men, women and even children are killing and being killed in conflicts that are both validated and emotionally intensified by religion. And this is possible because each faith has traditionally made its own absolute claim to be the one and only true faith. Absolutes can justify anything. Today, to insist on the unique superiority of your own faith is to be part of the problem. For how can there be stable peace between rival absolutes? In the words of the Catholic theologian Hans Kung, ‘There will be no peace among the peoples of this world without peace among the world religions’. And I would add that there will be no real peace among the world religions so long as each thinks of itself as uniquely superior to all the others. Dialogue between the faiths must continue on an ever increasing scale......

 
How I Came To Appreciate the Misunderstood Islam
Jaison Abraham, New Age Islam
How I Came To Appreciate the Misunderstood Islam
Jaison Abraham, New Age Islam

The negative understanding I have towards Islam was misinterpretation and misrepresentation of Islamic teachings.  Islam, its very word comes from the root word “Salam” which means peace. The very word “Jihad” is used, misused and abused term by many. In other words “jihad” is an inner struggle. As The Holy Quran gives more importance to love, kindness and Compassion.  As Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in his life-time sets out many examples on peace building and tolerance and he was friendly with the people of the book (Jews and Christians) but is it really happening today? No! Very rarely.....

In many places men, women and even children are killing and being killed in conflicts that are both validated and emotionally intensified by religion. And this is possible because each faith has traditionally made its own absolute claim to be the one and only true faith. Absolutes can justify anything. Today, to insist on the unique superiority of your own faith is to be part of the problem. For how can there be stable peace between rival absolutes? In the words of the Catholic theologian Hans Kung, ‘There will be no peace among the peoples of this world without peace among the world religions’. And I would add that there will be no real peace among the world religions so long as each thinks of itself as uniquely superior to all the others. Dialogue between the faiths must continue on an ever increasing scale. But the only stable and enduring basis for peace will come about when dialogue leads to a mutual acceptance of the world religions as different but equally valid relationships to the ultimate reality……

 
Survival of the Plural
Khaled Ahmed
Survival of the Plural
Khaled Ahmed

Religion is opposed to culture because of religion’s tendency to keep purifying itself and excluding elements and communities that cross the boundaries of identity. Islamisation in Pakistan is actually a process of re-tribalisation; hence, the Punjabi Taliban. Since the Taliban are Pakhtun, an imitative assumption of “single identity” is implied.....

 
Community, Nation and Nationalism
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Community, Nation and Nationalism
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

There are certain Islamic terms whose clarification is very necessary. Clarifying their real import can help in promoting better relations between Muslims and others. On the other hand, a wrong interpretation of these terms can only further magnify differences between them.....

 

By the Ahl-e-kitab the Quran means the followers of other prophets of God i.e. Moses, Jesus Christ and David among others who were given divine scriptures by God like the Torah, the Gospel, the Psalms etc. The verses of the Quran clearly describe the status of Ahl-e-Kitab in a Islamic state or in a society where Muslims, Jews and Christians co-exist. The Quran does not deny the followers of other religions, especially Ahl-e-kitab a place in a Islamic state. The verses quoted above have both religious and political bearing.....

While the dialogue was taking place, Prophet Muhammad gave the Christian delegation the right to practice their faith freely in his own mosque during their stay. At the end of the dialogue, the Christian delegation chose to remain Christian. The Prophet accepted their decision and gave them a letter assuring their freedom of worship and the safety of their homes, churches and towns. Below is part of this letter:

"Our covenant with Najran is that they are under the protection of God and his Prophet. Najran's homes, churches, monks, priests, their present and absent and alliance shall be safe..."

Pluralism is simply "Respecting the otherness of others and accepting the God-given uniqueness of each one of us." It is not a religion, nor is it a system of governance or laws to adhere to; it is simply one's attitude of "respecting the otherness of others." You are who you are, and I am who I am, and if we can learn to live with our differences, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge….

Peaceful Coexistence in Islam
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam
Peaceful Coexistence in Islam
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

It is not just rhetoric, that Islam means peace...it is much deeper than that. Islam itself means and demands to have peace with Allah, the Creator, resulting in inner peace within oneself; with all the creations of Allah- whether it is humans (Muslims or non Muslims) or animals or plants and even ecology, through submitting oneself to the Will of Allah and following His guidance sincerely and as fully as one can.....

Dismissing persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, Pope Tawadros II told a news conference held in Abu Dhabi, as neighbours at home, partners at work, friends in schools and colleges, Muslims and Christians have been living in harmony for more than 14 centuries. “But some problems between Copts and Muslims pop up from time to time. The new constitution will help solve these problems, so that justice and peace prevail,” the Coptic Pope said, winding up a several days visit to the UAE......

 

Beneath the surface of the “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a denial of the clash of civilizations between Islam and the West.  This denial is rooted in the rejection of Truth concerning how man should live. The West lives in a state of denial.  This is postmodernism.  Contrary to the 18th century, “Enlightenment,” or what is sometimes called the “Age of Reason,” postmodernism denies the existence of any universal or objective standards….

 
Hagia Sophia Could Be a Mosque/Church
Mustafa Akyol
Hagia Sophia Could Be a Mosque/Church
Mustafa Akyol

Once again, the status of Hagia Sophia of Istanbul, one of the most ancient and magnificent shrines on Earth, is being discussed in Turkey. Some speculate that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan plans to reopen the structure, which has been a “museum” since 1935, as a mosque to consolidate his support among religious conservatives. ….

Ninety-nine years were not enough for the Assyrians to forget the pain inflicted by the bloody massacre known as the Sayfo massacre. Meanwhile, the heated situation in the Levant is burdening Christians in general, and the Assyrian Church in particular, amid growing talk about the danger of yet another wave of displacement. Assyrians can trace some of their origins to the Aramean people, and the Assyrian language (Syriac)….

 

One of these reads: “The Vedic Aryans, including the Brahmanas, ate fish, meat and even beef. A distinguished guest was honoured with beef served at a meal. Although the Vedic Aryans ate beef, milch cows were not killed. One of the words used to refer to a cow was Aghnya (what shall not be killed). But a guest was a Goghna (one for whom a cow is killed). It is only bulls, barren cows and calves that were killed.”...

Babar’s will to his son Humayun (exhibited at the National Museum, New Delhi) indicates precisely this point. It says: “Son, this nation, Hindustan, has different religions. Thank Allah for giving us this kingdom. We should remove all the differences from our heart and do justice to each community according to its customs. Avoid cow slaughter to win over the hearts of the people of this land and to incorporate the people in the matters of administration…”


 

... Just driving around Jakarta’s streets is an education in the Mahabharata. Buses are painted with large advertisements for an energy drink called Kuku Bima, which promises Bhima-like endurance. Opposite the city’s main national  monument, Monas, is a kinetic statue of Arjuna being driven by Krishna to battle on a chariot led by eight horses. Further west, one of the most congested arteries is Gatot Subroto, named after a much-feted army general. An appropriate name as it turns out the name Gatot is a diminutive for Ghatotkacha, Bhima’s fearsome half-demon warrior son....

 

Therefore, the co-existence of Muslims and believers of other faiths should be allowed to prevail with sincerity, having known that our creator has His own best reason for creating us with different faiths as He said in the Holy Qur'an. However man can invite others to his faith if both parties enjoy that privilege……

 

When, last week, Saudi Arabia declared the Muslim Brotherhood, Jabhat Al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as terrorist organisations, it also highlighted one of the current problems with religious teaching in the Middle East and beyond: the lack of a “majority understanding” of Islam. The years of political stagnation in the big republics – Egypt, Iraq, Syria especially – hollowed out the role of religion in public life…..

Islam and Respect for Pluralism
Waris Mazhari
Islam and Respect for Pluralism
Waris Mazhari

An important aspect of this relationship between the Creator and human beings relates to relationships among human beings themselves. If these relationships are not structured on their natural basis, the relationship between the Creator and human beings, too, cannot be as it ought to. This is because, as the Prophet of Islam has said, all creatures are members of God’s family. It is simply impossible that if one harbours hatred and enmity for members of God’s family he can establish a relationship of closeness and love with God, the Head and Overseer of this family. …

“It is a tragedy and a blow to the basic pride of Arab Islamic civilisation. It is one of the most horrific developments of recent years. If Islamic civilisation has anything to show for itself, it is its record of pluralism and coexistence….

 
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