"You are lucky because you are going to a country, which is the only one in the world, where even common people in the street love Pakistanis" The first place for an accredited diplomat to visit is the mausoleum of the founder of modern Turkey and father of the nation Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Set in the raised portion in the middle of the city, it is an overpowering and imposing structure with vast lawns and open spaces around it. My wife and I paid our respects to the great leader of Turkey by visiting his mausoleum soon after our arrival in Ankara. Later we had several occasions to visit the place with the important Pakistani delegations and with our new Ambassador. It is a tradition that newly appointed Ambassadors place a floral wreath on the mausoleum soon after presenting their credentials to the President of Turkey. Some well known quotes of Ataturk are engraved on the walls of the mausoleum. One which I liked most is an epitome of patriotism. Ataturk said, "Ne mutlu Turkum dedi." ('How happy I am that I can say (that) I am a Turk.') -- Nazar Abbas
So, now, I can count names of at least five Muslim actresses who were around in the '40s, '50s and '60s — Suariya, Khursheed Bano, Noor Jehan, Nigar Sultana, Madhubala. Add to that Meena Kumari, Nargis, Mumtaz and Waheeda Rehman, and the number goes up to nine. Of course, these are only the well-known actresses. There were other not-so-well-known ones like Zubeida, on whose life a film was made by Shyam Benegal. ….the number of Muslim actresses in our films has gone down to just one or two? What does his have to say about the Muslim community, which has since the earliest days of Hindi cinema been an avid contributor of talent in music, direction, scripts and acting? -- Irena Akbar
“Baba, I want to offer prayers with you,” my daughter said to me one day. I treated the words quite casually and told her that she could join me. Nevertheless, I was amazed when she started reciting ‘Surah Fateha’ and a few other Quranic verses on the prayer mat. I lost my concentration and started listening to her. Tears came to my eyes and I was grateful to the Almighty. Children also accompany their parents and females coming to the mosque are a norm. People greet one another when they enter the mosque. There is harmony, nobody dislikes anyone and dinners are frequently arranged by Muslims to strengthen their unity. -- Asif Mian
…..the entire education system under Gaddafi was a disaster, and the university is a prime example of its failure. "Nothing was actually taught. It was all about control and the glorification of the leader," he says. Only people that were considered loyal by the regime were allowed to work at the university. Everyone, whether he or she wanted to or not, had to be able to provide evidence of a spotless biography and attitude in order to get a job. As in all totalitarian states, those who did not want to go into exile had to accept the situation in Libya. -- Alfred Hackensberger
Madrasa Aliah which was formerly known as Calcuttea Madrasa is one of the oldest educational institutions of India which was founded by the then Governor General of India Warren Hastings in 1780. The West Bengal government decided to upgrade Madrasa Aliah into a university. In 2007, the West Bengal Legislative Assembly passed the Aliah University Act XXVII of 2007 turning it into a university and conferring on it the status of a minority institution. The word Madrasa was omitted from the name. "What should bother is whether it remains a Madrasa or becomes a university, the institution should run efficiently. The students should get quality education."-- S. Arshad, NewAgeIslam.com
In November 2011, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art opened what is considered to be one of the finest collections of Islamic art in the world. This exhibition, from the Islamic World, may be a means of healing wounds, 10 years after the events of September 2001. This, potentially, has a special symbolic significance. Diplomacy has to be deployed to keep the cultural juggernaut moving. Diplomatic matters have to be managed and manipulated. Cultural diplomacy, or the more pejorative alternative – cultural imperialism, has become important player in global events. -- Salim Fredericks
About 24,000 madrasas are licensed. However, analysts believe there are just as many unlicensed schools operating…they have also been associated with extremism, educating thousands of young men who formed the Afghan Taliban or acting as recruiting grounds for terrorist groups."We all condemn the Sohrab Goth incident in Karachi when police rescued around 50 students of a Madrasa found chained in the basement during a raid," he said. Young boys and men were chained up for days on end in a brutal form of religious rehab. Police said they found boys as young as eight who had been beaten raw. -- Rob Crilly
Photo: A Pakistani child weeps after being rescued by police Photo: AP
….. Hurriyat (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani said, “From past many decades Christians are imparting education to our children. It is unfortunate that we have not been able to set up even a single educational institute at par with these Christian Missionary schools.” While the anguish of the patriarch is certainly heart rendering, the unfortunate part is that we ourselves are responsible for this sorry state of affairs. -- Neloofar Qureshi
In Delhi drawing rooms, one of the many rumors circulating about Zardari is that some venerable mullah convinced him that he could scare away the assassination bids and prolong his life by sacrificing a goat every day. So, the heavily secured President’s House in Islamabad is the site where a big fat goat is martyred each day so that Benazir Bhutto’s widower could live from one day to another. Friends, none of my friends in RAW could confirm this rumour but do ask around your ISI contacts. Meanwhile, this week winter has finally started showing its true colours in Delhi. -- Mayank Austen Soofi
As I grew older, I started paying greater attention to sermons that followed Friday prayers. That’s when I received my first shock; I remember it vividly even though I was only 14-years-old. The Imam said that all non-Muslims were infidels and that the entire world was to be brought under the banner of Islam even if it was by force. The feelings that overcame me after are hard to describe – I barely got through my prayers. I decided to ignore what I heard and just move on, but as time went on, it only got worse. Speeches of hatred against Ahmadi Muslims gave me headaches especially because one of my closest friends was from the Ahmediyas sect. Discrimination against Jews and western culture was a favourite topic in most mosques I visited, and above all justification and celebration for acts of terror like 9/11 is what brought me to my point of saturation. The point of saturation was me going up to my parents and grandparents to confess my thoughts about what it seemed Islam was preaching. -- AbuBakr Agha
The way language enriched the universal linguistic heritage, civilisation can also enrich the global heritage by becoming increasingly involved in a constructive, durable and outstanding dialogue It is time to believe in the puissance of logos that words have a virtue; the virtue of being ‘spoken’, being ‘named’. Various global issues we encounter in the present times carry a characteristic of their being and that motivates us to pay heed to the revealing power of dialogue. Through dialogue, we bring things to their full presence. -- Dr Munawar A Anees and Maryam Iraj
The exploitation and slaughter of animals is seen by many as a model and impetus for human oppression that we inflict on each other. The enslavement of animals, for example, can be said to lead to human slavery and how the assembly-line slaughter of animals led to the assembly-line slaughter of people. In this context, an American professor, Charles Patterson in his book ‘Eternal Treblinka’ has compared the abuse of animals with the Holocaust. The industrialized assembly-line for slaughtering animals, according to him, provided the model, in several important ways, for the slaughtering of humans in the Holocaust. He thus on the basis of extensive evidence draws profound connections between animal exploitation and Hitler’s Final Solution. -- Anees Jillani
New York: As part of the week-long “Many Facets of America” Tour of visiting Asian Muslim journalists, organized by the Department of State, we got to meet two remarkable young American Muslims. Starting from the idea of breaking their Ramadan fast in 30 different mosques and discovering the variety of Muslims who live in New York and have mosques in different areas, these two friends writer Aman Ali and filmmaker Bassam Tariq went on to travel across the United States of America in 30 states this year in Ramadan in a fascinating journey of discovering the variety of Islam that is practiced and Muslims that live here.
As they described in fascinating detail, beginning Aug. 1 in Alaska, the two intrepid American Muslim youth spent each night of Ramadan at a different mosque in 30 states around the country. The two travelled as many as 13,000 miles (nearly 21, 000 Kms), on a route that essentially took them across the entire country before reaching their homes in New York City.
During their Ramadan-long journey, they met a cross section of an estimated 3 to 4 million Muslims living in the United States – a number that is expected to double by the year 2030. Muslims in the U.S. come from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds including African Americans, South and East Asians, Europeans, Arabs and East Africans. Nearly all sects and schools of thought of Islam are represented here. Muslims have been living here at least for a couple of hundred years. The two were awestruck to discover beautiful mosques in the middle of nowhere sometimes.
One of the most important features of their journey and experience is that it encompasses Muslims of all sects and schools of thought including the Ahmadis whom one Islamic government (that of Pakistan) has branded as non-Muslim. Bassam Tariq and Aman Ali apparently consider Muslims of all opinion as Muslim and did not discriminate. -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
To bring their talk and their journey to life, we reproduce a video interview of the two travelers shown by Al-Jazeera.
Though the word baul is found in Bengali literature as far back as in the 15th century, the researchers believe that the sect originated in the 17th century. The earliest mention of the work baul is found in Maladhar Basu’s Shri Krishna Vijay (1473- 80). The book Shri Chaitanya Charit Amrit (1580-81) has the word baul used nine times. The word has also been used in Roop Goswami’s Sanskrit play “Bidagdha Madhab’ (1615). The word has also figured in Bahram Khan’s poem ‘Laila Majnu’ composed in 1615). It is believed that baulism originated as a result of the alienation of the lower caste people in the feudal society. Both the backward caste people from Hindu and Muslims formed a common platform to share their joys and sorrows as the upper castes of both the Hindus and Muslims did not give equal status and respect to them, rather treated them as untouchables. Another theory is that the Baul sect came into existence out of the interaction between Muslim fakirs and Vaishnav Sahajiya sadhus. -- S. Arshad, NewAgeIslam.com (Photo: Japanese baul Maki Kazumi with Sadhan Das Bairagya)
Recently, I wrote an opinion piece on why our history books should include Ranjeet Singh. The name Maharaja Ranjeet Singh was symbolic and used as an example to point out the need to look at our history objectively. For the critics who just could not shed their keyhole vision of looking at history through a religious lens, I would ask them a question. When Pakistan plays a cricket match with India, why do we support Danesh Kaneria, a Pakistani Hindu cricketer, over Irfan Pathan, an Indian Muslim cricketer? We support Kaneria for the simple reason that we associate his spirit of nationalism with the geographic confines that he represents, not the religion he follows. Going by the same logic, shouldn’t our hero be Raja Jaipal instead of Mahmood Ghaznavi? And if Ghaznavi being a fellow Muslim is enough for us to overlook his devastation in India, then we should also gleefully accept Taliban suicide bombings in Pakistan. -- Farhan Ahmed Shah