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Islam and Sectarianism

Inequity and injustice within a society is concealed and submerged within an all-encompassing narrative — usually evoking race, religion, nation or ethnicity. Submerged within an all-encompassing narrative — usually evoking race, religion, nation or ethnicity But this pseudo-Islamic narrative proved insufficient to satisfy the inchoate yearnings of minority ethnicities like the Baloch, Pakhtuns, Sindhis or Muhajirs. Worse, it failed to unite the geographically divided country. Amid massive upheavals, disorder and bloodshed, the state of Pakistan fell apart in 1971. Following the populist-socialist Bhutto hiatus, the usurper Zia regime restored a version of the pseudo-Islamic ideological narrative, intensified and distorted to malignant proportions. The institutions he promoted and the retrograde educational systems he erected polluted the intellectual atmosphere of the land and gave birth to today’s bigoted, obscurantist political culture and its poisonous fallouts of violent insurgency, terrorism and cold-blooded mass murder. This most retrograde of dictators ruled virtually unshaken for over 11 years, challenged only by the repeatedly martyred Bhutto family and the women of this country. -- Salman Tarik Kureshi

Bemoaning the fact that a small group of Muslims had given a bad name to their great religion, he added: “The time has come for us to come out and claim our rights. Let us take a pledge that we will never support Wahhabi extremism -- not today, not tomorrow”. As is often the case, the larger majority of Muslims the world over are law-abiding citizens who do not support the malignancy of Islamic extremism -- but have either been silent or invisible. Thus, the unambiguous stand taken by the AIUMB which represents almost 80 percent of India’s Sunni Muslims -- who in turn are the majority faction of Indian Muslims (the Shia, Ismaili and Ahmadiyya amongst others are estimated to be less than 30 million in all) -- is a very significant development in the ongoing contestation about the interpretation and practice of Islam. The stand taken by AIUMB President Hazrat Syed Muhammad Ashraf Ashrafi and his colleagues was long overdue, for many Indian Muslims had warned of the dangers being posed by the spread of virulent Wahhabi ideology in Indian madrasas, which received generous funding from Saudi sources. The control of madrasas and what they teach and propagate to impressionable minds has been a contentious issue in India for decades. -- C. Uday Bhaskar

  

Indian Muslims Oppose Wahhabi Extremism: A NewAgeIslam TV Report-8

From: NewAgeIslamTV  | Oct 21, 2011  

For the first time in India a Muslim Mahapanchayat passed a resolution condemning growing Wahhabi extremism. 
We have never accepted Wahhabi fatwas, and will never accept them in future too: Maulana Ashraf Kachochhvi

When Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was martyred, Lahore remained unmoved. In the case of the Hazaras, I doubt that a few outside the circle of the educated intellectuals (both real and pseudo) have any meaningful realisation of the extent of the barbarism being perpetrated upon the Hazaras. Even within those who at least acknowledge the existence of the violence, there is ambivalence in unequivocally condemning the violence. The principal debate it seems is on semantics and nomenclature, e.g. if the killing spree should be termed as ‘sectarian conflict’, ‘ethnic strife’ or the more graphic ‘genocide’, as if language and not murder is the primary issue here. Speaking for the Hazaras is not the cause currently deemed fashionable enough. The primary reason for that seems to be that they are too far away to make us really agitated as opposed to load shedding, which is here and now. -- Saroop Ijaz

 

My people want to live peacefully with their neighbours. My people are poor, their wishes and desires too little and they want to live as free men, not soldiers. We can live together but I have serious doubts. I smell secessionist feelings. But I call this country my home. I want to stay here, I want to grow old and see my children grow up in this country. Can I live here as I am? Can my individuality be respected? Can my culture, my language and traditions be regarded and my love for this country not be suspected? Why do you push me to be what I am not; what I do not want to be?  You would be baptised and integrated only when you call your people backward and ill-mannered and disassociate from them. Do you not think it is too much on me? I read in books that the people in Bengal were pushed too much. A foreign language was imposed on them in the name of national unity. -- Kahar Zalmay

 

Yet on stage at the Sufi Maha Panchyat, he roared like a lion, hurling charges against institutions that Muslim intellectuals hold in awe. At the centre of his accusations was the venerated Islamic seminary of Deoband which he held guilty of spreading hard-line Wahabbism: “Hamey Wahhabiyon ka na Immamat Quabool hai, na Quayadat Quabul (We reject the religious and political leadership of Wahhabis”). Maulana Kachochavi went on to ask the gathering to rebuff overtures from Wahhabi preachers, saying, “If anyone knocks on your door with the message of extremism, hand him over to the nearest police station. Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kachochavi is the General Secretary of the All-India Ulema & Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), a Sufi sect that came from nowhere to take Moradabad — and the Muslim world — by storm last week. Soft-spoken and gentle, with long robes and a flowing beard, he fits the part of the Sufi cleric to perfection. The cleric had done the unthinkable and unsurprisingly there was a rush of reactions. Retaliation came swift and strong from the adherents of the Deoband school. The Mohtamim (vice-chancellor) of Darul Uloom Deoband summoned a hurried press conference where he countered the charge and questioned the credentials of the AIUMB.  ....

Islamic scholar Sultan Shahin however fully backed the Sufi conclave saying it marked a milestone in Muslim politics: “It is for the first time that mainstream Ulema have come out so strongly against Wahabbism which is slowly but determinedly spreading in this country.” Mr. Shahin cited the example of Pakistan where extremism not only took liberal lives but toasted and celebrated the killers. “Islam on the subcontinent has always had a syncretic, local flavour. Islam spread in India through the Sufi saints. But all that changed with the infusion of Saudi petro dollars. For me the most worrying example is Pakistan. Everything that happened there a decade ago is happening here today.”

Mr. Shahin admitted that the space for extremism had been created by the Indian State which far from showing sensitivity towards Muslims prematurely accused them of terrorism whenever there was a bomb blast:” When from the very first minute you talk of Muslim suspects when there have also been instances of Hindutva terrorism that would distress any Muslim.” Mr. Shahin was however emphatic that the answer to injustice was not extremism: “You cannot deny that injustice has been done. But if you turn to extremism, you destroy yourself.” --   VIDYA SUBRAHMANIAM

 

Indian Muslims Oppose Wahhabi Extremism: A NewAgeIslam TV Report- 6From: NewAgeIslamTV  | Oct 21, 2011  |

 

All Shiites are worthy of killing. We will rid Pakistan of unclean people. Pakistan means land of the pure and the Shiites have no right to live in this country. We have the edict and signatures of revered scholars, declaring Shiites infidels. Just as our fighters have waged a successful jihad against the Shiite Hazaras in Afghanistan, our mission in Pakistan is the abolition of this impure sect and its followers from every city, every village and every nook and corner of Pakistan.  Like in the past, our successful jihad against the Hazaras in Pakistan and, in particular, in Quetta, is ongoing and will continue in the future. We will make Pakistan the graveyard of the Shiite Hazaras and their houses will be destroyed by bombs and suicide bombers. We will only rest when we will be able to fly the flag of true Islam on this land of the pure. Jihad against the Shiite Hazaras has now become our duty. -- Khaled Ahmed

October 10, 2011 was the third anniversary of the devastating suicide attack on a grand tribal jirga in Orakzai that killed the entire Sunni-Shia tribal leadership of the Ali Khel tribe, the biggest tribe in Orakzai. The jirga was leading an anti-Taliban Lashkar (militia) against the Taliban in the Ali Khel area — Tirah in Orakzai. Faced with growing Taliban atrocities and lack of state protection despite the repeated requests to the government of Pakistan, the Ali Khels were forced to take up weapons against the Taliban. The Taliban militants who came to the Ali Khel area around early 2008 initially committed atrocities against the Shia Ali Khels and those Sunnis who defied the Taliban’s social boycott of the Shias. In response, the minority Shia section of the tribe requested the majority Sunni section of the tribe to support them against the Taliban. The Sunni Ali Khel section, already alarmed by the growing highhandedness of the Taliban, decided to protect the Shias by removing the Taliban from their area through force following the government of Pakistan’s reluctance to take action against the Taliban. -- Farhat Taj

Pakistan is the creation of a minority complex. The Muslims in India were fearful of the numerical majority of the Hindus, post the British departure, and therefore wanted a separate homeland for themselves so that they could safeguard their interests. So, in the words of the Muslim League, India was inhabited by only two communities: Muslim and Hindu, where both needed separation. What the Muslim League forgot in this ‘Two Nation’ theory was the fact that the Muslims were not a homogenous community. There were a lot of internal fissures amongst the Muslims and several sections of the Muslim community were oppressed and discriminated against. The Hazaras of Balochistan (and Afghanistan) are one such community. They are Muslim, but they are Shia. They are Pakistanis, but they are of Mongol descent. These simple, yet critical sect and ethnic descent disparities have made them an easy target of Taliban’s attack, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. -- Yaqoob Khan Bangash

 

Sectarian conflict is not foreign to our historical experience. There was rioting between the more passionate members of the Sunni and Shia communities occasionally even during British rule in India. But for the most part the two communities lived together peacefully in the same neighbourhoods one generation after another. The fact that one person was a Sunni and another a Shia did not stop them from building friendly and cooperative relationships. During the first several decades after independence, folks did not carry their religious belief on their sleeves. They took it in stride. He told them, for instance, that secularists in Pakistan were snakes in the grass who must be located and crushed. This attitude of mind travelled beyond theological interpretations. It endorsed intolerance of the dissident in all areas of social interaction. -- Anwar Syed

 

Three conclusions are obvious. First, the size of the population threatened by the wave of sectarian violence has increased by a wide margin. Secondly, the targeted groups are no longer threatened with loss of job or property; their right to life itself is denied. And, thirdly, the addition of minority-bashing to the Al Qaeda’s agenda has greatly enhanced the strength of the forces that are challenging the state of Pakistan in this regard. Discrimination including violence against communities that are non-Muslim by choice (Hindus, Christians, Sikhs et al) and those put in this bracket against their will (Ahmedis) has been on the increase for several years. That meant about five per cent of the population, or nine million people, were threatened. Even that was not a small number. The addition of the Shias to the people earmarked for extermination should raise the figure of endangered Pakistanis to 15 to 20 per cent of the population — 27 to 36 million people. Does it not put the need to combat sectarianism at the top of the national agenda? -- I.A Rehman

 

On September 20, 2011, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) militants shot dead 29 Shias in two separate incidents in Balochistan. In the first incident, a bus carrying 45 Shia pilgrims, travelling from Quetta, the provincial capital, to Taftan (Iran), came under attack in Mastung. About 10 assailants, riding on a twin-cab pick-up and armed with AK-47 rifles and rocket launchers, intercepted the bus, ordered all the passengers out and then opened indiscriminate fire, killing 26 and injuring another five. An hour after the first attack, militants killed another three Shias, who Police said were relatives of victims of the first incident en route to collect their bodies, on the outskirts of Quetta. Claiming the attack, LeJ 'spokesperson' Ali Sher Haideri declared that his outfit would continue to target people from the Shia community. The lethality and operational successes of the LeJ, over the years, are substantially attributed to its multi-cell structure, with each maintaining limited contact with the others. Each sub-group is responsible for carrying out activities in a specific geographic location. Reports indicate that, after each attack, LeJ cadres disperse and subsequently reassemble at the various bases/hideouts to plan future operations. --Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

 

Over 500 Shia Hazaras have been killed in Balochistan by Sunni extremists in the recent past. In the latest massacre last week, a bus was waylaid 40 miles from Quetta by Lashkar- i- Jhangvi terrorists who lined up its Shia passengers and mowed 26 of them down in cold blood. Two months ago, an extremist leader of a banned organisation was set free from prison because the multi- murder charges against him couldn’t be proved — eight witnesses had been murdered during the trial, the police wasn’t ready to testify and the judges were scared out of their wits. Assassination is the name of the game. In Karachi, over 400 people were killed in the most recent wave of inter- party killings over August and September. -- Najam Sethi

 

One of the more frustrating refrains uttered since Gaddafi's disappearance is that his legacy in Africa is something to be lauded. Like most of Gaddafi's policies, the overtures to black Africa were rooted in clumsy experimentation, and watered by the man's soreness at having being rejected as leader of the Arab world. When his pan-Arab project failed, he turned to non-Arab Africa and set about appointing himself as the magnanimous Arab who had deigned to lead the hapless Africans, a "king of kings". He cynically exploited the historical tension between Arab and black African by playing on emotion and apologising for how Arabs treated Africans, for the invasion of their land, and for the slave trade. Then he set about meddling in their internal affairs, supporting rebel groups and inciting internecine conflict, not out of any loyalty to a cause, but to whichever party flattered his ego and needed his lucre most. -- Nesrine Malik

 

They realise that they belong to a country where apostasy means inviting the risk of death – even if spared by government authorities and courts, a fanatic mob would certainly not. They first tried to make their presence known two years back by making a page about their group on Facebook. On August 14 this year, they launched their website www.e-paa.org that was literally an instant hit. It received more than 17,000 hits in just 48 hours after its launch from 95 countries, including Saudi Arabia. How did the idea to bring together Pakistani atheists on a single platform come up? “When I became an atheist, I honestly thought there were no others like me in Pakistan. Through discussions on various social networking groups and forums, I found a few others like me. So we decided to make this group to find out how many more were out there,” says Hazrat NaKhuda, one of the founding members of the group. For obvious reasons, the PAA members go by pseudonyms to protect their identity. -- Bilal Farooqi

As if widespread kidnappings and deteriorating law, order and sanitation were not enough, the Khadim-e-Aala-led Punjab government, on September 7, allowed yet again a large mass of Ulema to gather in and terrorise the Ahmedi community in Rabwah — officially known as Chenab Nagar lest we recognise that those forced non-Muslims may also worship the same god. In 2002, General Musharraf restored the joint electorate system but the irony is, that while Shias, Sunnis, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs, etc, were put on one general list, a supplementary ‘non-Muslim’ list was prepared for the Ahmedis in particular. In other words, only the Ahmedis are, for purposes of voting, non-Muslims. -- Yasser Latif Hamdani

Since Karachi is facing threats to its multicultural identity, perhaps the most relevant example of its culture of social service is the Orangi Pilot Project. The months-old lawlessness has tested the mettle of Akhtar Hameed Khan’s successors in all the areas of their work — schools, health, micro-credit and urban facilities (water supply, drainage, etc) and they have come out with flying colours. They are helping provincial and local governments with surveys, maps and technical assistance in remodelling urban settlements and designing new ones. Above all, they have offered models of multicultural settlements. Everyday many of their workers travel from one ‘ethnic zone’ to another on their way to office. They do not claim to be free from fear, only their commitment to their mission is stronger. Here is a framework for restoring peace and order in Karachi. (Other cities are not barred from profiting from this model.) -- I.A Rehman

The report is aimed at justifying the establishment’s long-standing Afghan policy, the strategic depth policy that has brought nothing but destruction to the Pakhtun and has created religious bigotry in Pakistan. It is thus no wonder that this elite presents the Pakhtun and the Taliban as a synonym and argues for the accommodation in the future Afghan government set up of those fringe elements of the wider Pakhtun society, the Haqqani Taliban and Mullah Omar’s Quetta Shura, all of which are hardly anything more than proxies of the military establishment of Pakistan. Basically, the report is aimed at justifying the establishment’s long-standing Afghan policy, the strategic depth policy that has brought nothing but destruction to the Pakhtun and has created religious bigotry in Pakistan. The elite is using the notion of the ‘not antagonistic to Pakistan’ government in Afghanistan to camouflage the notion of strategic depth in Afghanistan. They are using the name of the Pakhtun nation to camouflage the Taliban terrorists. -- Farhat Taj

 

Some top level office bearers of PML-N are engaged in supporting the armed persons of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipahah-e-Sohabaha Pakistan....... All praises are to God, today they are all armed while some political parties have also perceived this reality that Kalashnikov is a necessary tool to have political supremacy in Pakistan instead of a manifesto. There is no party in Karachi which has no thousands of armed valiant guards. In fact, this armed pollution in the Pakistani political environment has been brought by some military adventurists, who needed support of political and religious parties for the justification of their power. First Jamaat-e-Islami [JI] and other smaller outfits benefitted from this drive. Amongst this anarchic situation in Karachi, the existence of sectarian elements, Taliban and Al-Qa'ida, which are making their presence in the force, cannot be ignored. -- Mujahid Hussain

 

Rwanda? No. It’s Karachi, the financial hub and largest city of Pakistan. The citizens, the traders, the MQM and the ANP may want the army to come in and cleanse Karachi but the government doesn’t want to make that call. It knows it can control the situation because it has a plan. One argument in favour of army deployment is that at least it will quell the current violence. That may be true but the issue is not about mopping the floor, it is about turning off the tap. The last time the army came to Karachi the situation was bad. The operation only created more problems. -- Ejaz Haider

 

The three- way struggle for turf and power in Karachi among the PPP, MQM and ANP overlaps with violent gang wars among the criminal drug, extortion, arms and land- grab mafias that have come to dominate the underworld of Karachi and established quid pro quo links with each of the three parties. The situation is markedly different and more explosive and complex today. The demographic profile of the city has changed in the last two decades with a steady stream of armed Pashtun migrants from the NWFP, FATA and Afghanistan. These Pashtuns have acquired great clout because of the boom in transportation trade triggered by the American pipeline of 500 container- trucks per day in the last decade to Afghanistan. If the MQM balks at joining the PPP government and refuses to accommodate the legitimate demands of the PPP and ANP in exchange, the stage will be set for fresh bloodletting in Karachi. -- Najam Sethi

 

The general consensus among Karachi'ites and elsewhere is that the violence has its roots in crime because of the covert and overt support extended by the state and almost all political parties to mafias and powerful predatory groups that have largely come to determine the highly weaponised city's urban infrastructure development. The weaponisation can be traced back to U.S. transit of arms to the Mujahideen from the port city during the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. While politicians play out their games of survival in the multiethnic city of 17 million people, the writ of the state is nowhere to be seen. --Anita Joshua

 

Although presented in the usual xenophobic and sectarian style of the Urdu Press, the following article tells us how much Mahatma Gandhi and other Indian luminaries respected Maulana Mohammad Ali’s beautiful translation of the Holy Quran, even though any write-up by an Ahmadi scholar is anathema to our illiterate ulema (religious scholars) who are incapable of appreciating anything worthwhile beyond their microscopic vision. Incidentally, Maulana Mohammad Ali is also famous for his excellent exposition of the tenets of our religion in his book “The Religion of Islam”. This book is far more relevant in our times than it was even when it was written. Maulana Mohammad Ali was a contemporary of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and considered him a Mujaddid (renewer) of Islam rather than a non-law-bearing prophet as many Ahmadis do.  But our so-called ulema do not have the ability to recognize even that distinction. Any appreciation for Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s brilliant exposition of Islamic tenets is considered blasphemy. New Age Islam posts articles of different points of view for free debate and discussion. In principle, no article should be taken as an endorsement of a point of view. -- Editor

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The recitation of the Quran, Geeta and Bible every morning was a part of Gandhiji’s daily routine. Every day, he studied Muhammad Ali Ahmadi’s English translation of the Quran. It is a matter of research as to who advised him to read Muhammad Ali Ahmadi’s Quran because Muhammad Ali Ahmadi was the greatest flag bearer of Qadianism in the subcontinent who promoted Qadianism with his venomous English writings despite the fact that the English translations of Mohammad Marmaduke Pickthall (1930), Abdullah Yusuf (1934) and Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi (1941) had already been published. Notwithstanding this, Gandhiji read only the Quran translated by Muhammad Ali Ahmadi. As a result, the English Quran of Md Ali Ahmadi got wide publicity.This went on.  --- Athar Siddiquee [Translated from Urdu by New Age Islam Edit Desk]

(Photo: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi)

 

It is crucial, however, that such fairly dominant understandings of community and religion be forcefully challenged, not only because of the very real potential for violence that they contain, but also because more often than not such definitions of community and religion do not at all correspond to empirical reality. Textbook definitions of each religion that such notions of community are predicated on assume that each religion is a homogenous, well-defined entity, which is completely separate from and has no overlaps with other religions, defined in this reified way. This assumption is wholly erroneous. It overlooks the fact that every religion is diversely understood, often in very contradictory ways, by those who claim to be its adherents.  Often, intra-religious sectarian rivalry is much more acute than inter-religious rivalry, a fact that is cleverly concealed when we talk of each religion as a monolithic entity and of each community constructed on the basis of this notion of religion as a single whole containing no internal divisions. This fact very clearly challenges the monolithic notion of religion that forms the basis of the ideology of religious communalism.-- Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com

Fanatic Muslims consider Hindu dominated India as "an unfinished chapter of Islamic conquests". I may be recalled that all other countries conquered by Islam became 100% converted to Islam within two decades of the Islamic invasion. India is the exception. Undivided India in 1947 was 75% Hindu even after 800 years of brutal Islamic rule. That is jarring for the Islamic fanatics. Fanatic Muslim attacks have been carried out to target and demoralise the Hindus, to make Hindus yield that which they should not, with the aim of undermining and ultimately to dismantle the Hindu foundation of India. This is the unfinished war of 1,000 years which Osama bin Laden talks about. In fact, the earliest terror tactics in India were deployed in Bengal 1946 by Suhrawady and Jinnah to terrorise Hindus to give in on the demand for Pakistan. The Congress party claiming to represent the Hindus capitulated, and handed 25 per cent of India on a platter to Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Now they want the remaining 75 per cent. -- Dr. Subramaniam Swamy

The Pakistani state’s ‘abduct and dump’ policy in Baluchistan continues as viciously as ever and the recent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) report was a lot of water off duck’s back. Those who put no premium on human lives exhibit callous indifference and care not a whit for reports. The established policy of immunity for state sanctioned atrocities perpetrated from day one is the real reason for continuation of this reign of terror in Baluchistan. Admiral Mullen said, and he must have had good reasons, that Saleem Shahzad’s murder was government sanctioned; he should also have mentioned killings in Baluchistan. In the last ten months, more than 180 such victims have been recovered and not a single case has been investigated, even the assassination of Professor Saba Dashtiari has been conveniently forgotten. -- Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

 
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