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Islamic Personalities

Rebranding Faiz Ahmad Faiz
Faiz Ahmad Faiz
Rebranding Faiz Ahmad Faiz
Suleman Akhtar

February 13 marked the birth anniversary of one of the most prolific Urdu poets, Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Faiz sahib stands out in the rich tradition of Urdu poetry as an ideologue who never shied away from taking up the momentous task of conveying the message mainly inspired by politics of the Left. That too in such a spellbinding manner that no other poet........

But a careful examination shows that the percentage of people killed in these wars relative to the number of the people who participated in them amounted to about 1.5 percent. Since the Messenger of Mercy was victorious in most of these battles, the numbers of casualties indicate that he is not to be counted among the ruthless and barbaric warlords, conquerors, and military generals of human history – and in fact, far from it....

In just 23 years of his life as prophet, Muhammad united nomadic warring Arab tribes into submission to One God. The revelations of the Quran alone did not transform them for they were largely illiterate. It was essentially the Prophet’s character that appealed to the rough Arabs. After humiliating and battling the Prophet for years, they handed him the keys of their hearts after recognising his qualities of honesty, humility, justice, compassionate and generosity.....

The Prophet Muhammad (saw), A Great Humanitarian
Ghulam Ghaus, New Age Islam
The Prophet Muhammad (saw), A Great Humanitarian
Ghulam Ghaus, New Age Islam

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was one of the greatest humanitarians that ever walked on the earth. In fact he must be called the saviour of humanity. George Bernard Shaw insists that “if a man like Muhammad were to assume dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness.”[The Genuine Islam] Similarly, a great historian, Lamartine argues that “as regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?”[Histoire de la Turquie] According to Michael H Hart, he leads the list of the Most Influential Persons in History’ (The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History’)

As a result, at the turn of the twentieth century, Maulvi Abdullah Chakralavi floated the idea of supremacy of Quran as the only comprehensive and divine source of guidance for Muslims in their religious beliefs and practices. He denounced Hadith and the practices of the Prophet (PBUH) ritualized in the form of Sunnah - the second most important source of religious guidance according to the consensus of Muslim scholars for many centuries - as irrelevant....

 
Allama Iqubal, One Beloved, Three Wives, Four Weddings
Dr Sir Mohammad Iqubal
Allama Iqubal, One Beloved, Three Wives, Four Weddings
Dr. Khalid Sohail

When we study the psychological aspect of Iqubal’s life, we find out that despite having a sensitive heart and a brilliant mind, he had to struggle against many romantic contradictions throughout his life. These contradictions appeared for the first time when Iqubal went to Europe in the pursuit of higher education. Upon reaching Europe, he discovered that his personality possessed certain charm that the opposite sex found irresistible….

Moreover, Rokeya was brought up in the strictest form of Purdah as practiced by elite Muslims of the time. From the age of five, she was prohibited from interacting with men or even women outside her family circle. In several episodes of her book, The Zenana Women (Aborodhbasini), Rokeya sarcastically describes how she had to go into hiding in her own home whenever an unknown woman walked into their courtyard or came to visit them....

The Centrality of Imam Hussain
Mike Ghouse
The Centrality of Imam Hussain
Mike Ghouse

It was a conflict between Imam Hussain and Yazid the caliph of that time. Yazid usurped the leadership of Muslim community and wanted the true spiritual leader Imam Hussain to endorse him for legitimacy, which Imam Hussain rightfully declined and Yazid had him killed along with his young children. It was indeed like the Battle of Kurukshetra in Mahabharata; Good against evil, except Krishna's good forces win the battle over the evil ones....

Imam Hussain (a s): The Eternal Martyr
Sadia Dehlvi
Imam Hussain (a s): The Eternal Martyr
Sadia Dehlvi

It is believed that on this day God accepted Adam’s appeal for forgiveness, rescued Prophet Jonah from the fish’s abdomen, restored the health of Job, saved Abraham from the fire of Nimrod, granted Solomon his kingdom, anchored Noah’s ark at Mount Judi after it had been sailing for six months; parted the Red Sea for Moses to save his followers from the tyrannical rule of the Egyptian Pharaohs….

 

The late scholar Rafiq Zakaria was shocked when Pramod Mahajan, then general secretary of the BJP, at a seminar at Nehru Centre in 1990, said that "a great Indian Muslim like Iqbal who penned Sare Jahan Se Achcha later divided India". "I reminded Mahajan of his ignorance... Iqbal fought communalism-attacking fundamentalist Hindus for questioning Muslims' loyalty to India, he wrote: Patthar ki moorton mein samjha hai tu khuda hai/khak-e-watan ka mujhko har zarra devta hai...

Sir Syed Day and Its Utility
Asghar Ali Engineer
Sir Syed Day and Its Utility
Asghar Ali Engineer

 Much more important is to assess what is the condition of Muslims today in the sub-continent and what impact Sir Syed’s contribution has on Muslim society today. It is so unfortunate that just a few days before Sir Syed Day a 14 year old girl Malala from North West Frontier Province from Pakistan was murdered by Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan led by Maulana Fazlullah just because she was campaigning for education for girls....

 
Remembering Zafar, the last Mughal
Bahadur Shah Zafar
Remembering Zafar, the last Mughal
Kim Arora

Exiled by the British to Rangoon for fighting for his land, Bahadur Shah II died lamenting the fact that he could not be buried in his own country. Today, 150 years after the last Mughal died in the country of his exile, his last wish remains unfulfilled. It is said that when Subhash Chandra Bose launched his INA campaign from Rangoon, he invoked Bahadur Shah Zafar....

 
‘Heroes’ Of My Childhood
Gaitty Ara Anis
‘Heroes’ Of My Childhood
Gaitty Ara Anis

With the rising of religious extremism that has robbed us of all sanity we should ask who we have chosen as our role models and why. I wonder why we have been taught “myths” in our text books and what philosophies have been promoted in our country since it was created? Though many would disagree, in my opinion this deliberate selection of heroes based on religion, class and creed has left us breathless, without the oxygen of fresh ideas. The result is close mindedness and conservatism....

Muhammad: The Greatest Reformer, the Most Influential Man in History
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam
Muhammad: The Greatest Reformer, the Most Influential Man in History
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

Allah praises Muhammad (pbuh) “Most certainly O Muhammad you are on the pinnacle of behaviour” (Ch 68 V 4) Jules Masserman, a US Psychoanalyst, picked Muhammad as his greatest leader. He chose his greatest prophet Moses at number two. He says that leaders must fulfil three functions: a. Provide for the well being of the led; b. Provide a social organization in which people feel relatively secure and; c. provide them with a set of beliefs. ...

Muhammad:  The Most Misunderstood Man in the World
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam
Muhammad: The Most Misunderstood Man in the World
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

The pre-Islamic era was full of superstition and barbarism. It was known as the Age of Ignorance. The people of that time were so corrupted in thought and morals that they would cut their idols into pieces and eat them. Their excuse was that they had seen their fathers doing it. They also used to bury their daughters alive. Humans were worse than animals. Their concept of morality was just the opposite of our concept of morality: bloodthirsty were exalted, bloodshed was considered a virtue, and adultery and fornication were more common than legal marriage. …

Reintroducing Sir Syed and His Thought
Dr Haider Shah
Reintroducing Sir Syed and His Thought
Dr Haider Shah

We are in the habit of associating rationalism with western thinkers, even though our own history is also full of shining examples of rationalist thinking. Sir Syed has been popularised as the founder of the two-nation theory alone in our national syllabus. It is high time his real message of rationalism was also shared with the young of Pakistan. This can prove an effective antidote to extremism that has gripped our society these days....

 
The Noble Persona of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) As Mirrored In the Qur’an
Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
The Noble Persona of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) As Mirrored In the Qur’an
Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam

Delving into the Qur’an further we see it asserting that unless God willed, the Prophet would not have recited the revelation to his audience, nor God would have taught it to them - it asks his audience to reflect on this as he had lived with them for a lifetime before the revelation commenced (10:16, 12:3, 42:52) This demonstrates that the Prophet had not displayed any literary or poetic genius or any philosophical, psychological, political or theological insight all his life prior to the revelation. This in turn indicates that the Prophet neither had any aptitude, nor grooming, nor ambition to found a faith or lead a faith community, let alone becoming the virtual ruler of the whole of Arabia towards the end of his life. His greatest gifts, apart from the power of revelation, were his noble personal qualities. ...

Shaikh Abdullah: The Good Shaikh
Rakhshanda Jalil
Shaikh Abdullah: The Good Shaikh
Rakhshanda Jalil

Aligarh accepted him with open arms. It gave him the freedom to be exactly who or what he wished to be. Free of the ties and trappings of caste, culture, class, Shaikh Abdullah was like virgin clay, ready to be moulded. Yet, like clay, he retained certain distinctive qualities of his own. His peers and teachers were quick to spot these traits: earnestness, optimism, determination and an infectious never-say-die spirit....

 

It was the summer of 1995. “Papa, it is Hizbul Mujahideen,” said a panicking Juhi handing over the phone to her father Sultan Shahin. It was a death threat to Shahin, who had written in a national daily, countering Hizbul’s call that the war against India was validated by Quran.

For Shahin, it was one of the numerous encounters with extremists. “I invite such people to discuss the differences over tea. I tell them please intimate me before you kill me so that there is no collateral damage,” says Shahin, laughingly. He is serious about sorting out differences though. In 2008, Shahin launched newageislam.com— a website to prompt Muslims to ‘rethink’ Islam and challenge the petro-dollar funded Wahabi ideology. More than one lakh readers visit the site every day and the electronic newsletter reaches out to around 2.5 lakh people….

Hazrat Khadija (RA): Woman with a Clout
Durdana Najam
Hazrat Khadija (RA): Woman with a Clout
By Durdana Najam

What would make a man in the middle of his youthfulness marry a woman 15 years older to him? What does this marriage tell about Makkah and about women in that society? And how does Hazrat Khadija (RA) inspire Muslim women? These are a few questions that would help one understand women in Islam. Lately, Muslim women have been dragged into controversies and unwarranted criticism because of misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Islamic culture by a handful of people....

Here in Indus valley civilization a unique galaxy of Sufis existed including, Shah Latif Bhittai, Bulleh Shah, Sultan Bahu, Sachal Sarmast, Rehman Baba and Iqbal. From Khyber to Karachi they all were the segments of the same chain. They all composed verses, poetry and prose for Almighty and danced and sang for Him. They all had great respect and reverence for Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi....

 
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and his Legacy
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and his Legacy
Yasser Latif Hamdani

There are however, a number of predictions, all seemingly accurate, which are associated with Azad that seem to reinforce further his image as the sage of the age. He is said, amongst other things, to have predicted Pakistan’s dependence on western powers and growing discord between the religious right and liberals in Pakistan in an interview conducted in April 1946. The only problem is that the latter list of predictions has been transmitted to us through a dubious source. This source was Agha Shorish Kashmiri, a committed Ahrari leader who opposed the creation of Pakistan....

Indeed, Islam spread in India and Pakistan not by the force of conquest or the elaborate arguments of mullahs and Quazis but through the work of great Sufi sheikhs. The Sufi sheikhs of the 13th century were not merchants of faith. They were men drunk with the love of God, giving themselves no gain but the prospect of divine pleasure, serving humanity irrespective of creed or nationality and sharing their spiritual bounty with whoever would partake of it. Proselytizing was not their goal; it was a by-product of their selfless service. …

Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti – A Model For Sufi Islam
Dargah Ajmer Sharif
Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti – A Model For Sufi Islam
Asghar Ali Engineer

Sufi Islam, as pointed out by us repeatedly is most tolerant Islam which is highly compatible with multi-culturalism and pluralism. It flourished in India precisely for this reason. Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti, who was from Seistan, Iran also migrated to India via Central Asia after seeing Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in dream who asked him to go to India and spread the message of Islam. Hadith literature also tells us that the Prophet (PBUH) had great attraction for India and in one of the hadith he is reported to have said that I am getting cold breeze from India. ...

 

Aristotle and Imam Ghazali are two immortals of history who put their seal on European and Muslim philosophical scholarship through succeeding generations. The generations disappeared in the fold of time but their teachings continue to attract mankind. Still they remain difficult and controversial as in their own times.

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