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Books and Documents

Islamic Personalities

Ibn Battuta and Shaikh Murshidi - Part Three
Dr A Q Khan

He then remembered what the saint, abu Abdallah al-Murshidi had said: “You will enter the land of India and meet there my brother Dilshad, who will deliver you from a misfortune which will befall you there.” He also remembered the man’s name, ‘joyous heart’, which when translated into Persian is Dilshad....

 

The specific contours of Thanawi’s legal philosophy, psychology and theology that limit his choices for seekers (Salik) in general and fatwa seeking masses in particular to accommodate less ideal modes of living forced by modernity call for informed analysis and critique in light of great Sufi Masters and jurists who embody other less disciplinarian streams of thinking.  What needs to be emphasized is that Thanwi had much more optimistic view of otherworldly prospects for sinning believers...

Ibn Battuta and Shaikh Murshidi - Part Two
Dr A Q Khan

After travelling to Makkah, Madina, southern Persia, Iraq, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, Ibn Battuta reached the Indian Subcontinent, where he travelled from Sindh to the North West and then on to Delhi . At that time, Sultan Ghiasuddin Tughlaq was the king. The king’s son, Mujahid Muhammad Shah treacherously killed his father when the former returned from an expedition. He took possession of the kingdom without opposition. His real name was Jawnah, but when he became king he called himself Muhammad and took the ‘Kunyah’ name of Abul Mujahid....

The Sufi mentor in this story was Dr Abdul Hai Arfi, himself a disciple of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi. One of the many great contributions of Maulana Thanvi was that he reintroduced Islamic teachings regarding social relations and dealings with others as a religious issue. His message: You must become a good human being before you can ever become a good Muslim. This message destroys a disastrous and tragic misconception that reduces Islam to only the performance of the ritual acts of worship...

 

Ibn Battuta and Shaikh Murshidi
Dr A Q Khan

That night while sleeping, Ibn Battuta dreamt he was on the wings of a huge bird that flew in the direction of the ‘Qiblah’, then made towards Yemen, then eastwards, then south, and finally made a long flight towards the east, alighting in some dark and greenish country, where it left Ibn Battuta. He was astonished at the dream and thought to himself, “If the Shaikh shows me he knows of my dream, then he is all they say that he is.” After the afternoon prayers, the Shaikh revealed that he had knowledge of the dream. He said: “You shall make the Pilgrimage to Mecca and visit the tomb of the Prophet at al-Madinah, then you shall travel through the lands of al-Yaman and al-Iraq, the land of the Turks and the land of India....

 

Allama Iqbal’s Ideal Society Is One That Is Driven by Modern and Reconstructed Islamic Ideals
Walid Iqbal

In a lecture delivered at Aligarh in 1910, he posited, “Society is much more than its existing individuals; it is in its nature infinite; it includes within its contents the innumerable unborn generations which, though they ever lie beyond the limits of immediate social vision, must be considered as the most important portion of a living community in the successful group-life it is the future which must always control the present.” He further believes that an ideal society is one that is driven by modern and reconstructed Islamic ideals....

 

Many of the issues Al-Ma’arri raises about dogma, superstition and the abuse of clerical power are just as valid today as they were a millennium ago. Despite being accused of heresy, he was never persecuted and died at the ripe age of 86. One is left to wonder whether he got away with such blasphemous writing because of the more tolerant nature of the time or if he simply got lucky possibly out of pity for being blind....

“Sufis might do more harm than good if they insisted that everything they did had clear warrant in the foundational texts, that it carried the same authority as did the well-established goals of the Shari’a.” Rather than reform Sufism as modernists and some Ulema would suggest, the task is to appreciate that Thanwi “did not have a narrow set of criteria in terms of which to “reform” Sufism or to make it compatible with Shari’a norms. Rather, it was precisely this lack of a narrowly Shari’a-minded vision, so far as Sufism is concerned, that explains his success as a Sufi.”...

 

Many Muslims believe that Muhammad physically ascended to meet Allah and returned within the same night. Muslims also believe that Adam was sent from The Garden to Earth. They also believe that Jesus was raised alive and is yet to return. Jews, Christians and Muslims also believe that God spoke with Moses. It is also believed that when the time comes, the Believers who have been forgiven will be able to leave Earth and ascend to inherit The Gardens, as an ever-lasting reward by Allah the Most-Compassionate, the Ever-Merciful, the Most-Appreciative!....

Namık Kemal, the Enlightenment and the Future of the Muslim World
Ibrahim Kalin

To the contrary, Islam produced one of the greatest and most enduring civilizations in history and there is nothing in Islam to suggest that Muslims cannot make advances in science, technology, economy, education, urban development or other areas. He rejected the suggestion that Muslims cannot progress in the modern world without secularizing themselves and going through the process of the Protestant Reformation....

 
Syed Maududi: A Contested Legacy
Dr Muhammad Maroof Shah

Religion is not an ideology and its addressee remains primarily an individual who is commanded to “strive for righteous rather than perfect community” and for that right order in one’s soul and the soul of the ruler is a prerequisite and in that task philosophers and mystics have a role that Maududi didn’t fully recognize. The key problem that there is a danger that human interpretation of God’s Word/Law may pose as divinely sanctioned one has been recognized by most modern thinkers....

Meditation, in fact, is the technique to contemplate within. It is but one method to unfold the universe which lies wrapped within. It awakens the advanced form of senses in man, through which he can observe the realities and phenomenon that the material eye cannot observe. He is against any form of discrimination, be it gender, religious or social....

 

Abu Mansur Al-Maturidi: Constructing Sunni Understanding of Islamic Theology
Hakan Arsalanbenzer

Ashari's take on Islam is seen as the opposite of Mutazilis, which is a sort of Islamic rationalism. According to the Mutazilli philosophers, God does not create bad things, and individuals create their own wills and deeds. Following the intermediate school of Abu Hanifa, Maturidi formulated a new theological system that creates a middle ground between Ashari and Mutazilli understanding.....

Ghalib’s personal life was also a series of traumatic events. His father died when he was five years old and his uncle who took charge of the family passed away when he was nine. None of Ghalib’s own children survived beyond infancy. Throughout his life he faced financial difficulties. The early life facts are obscure and we really do not know who inspired him to start writing poetry at the age of 11. Maybe it was just a refuge from personal pain.....

 

Their messages resonate in the subcontinent, particularly Pakistan, but far beyond it. Iqbal’s poems are regarded as the eternal gift to humans of the world and his importance as a Muslim thinker is rising. Iqbal has a partial relevance even in India. On the other hand Maududi has been re-discovered by Western academia along with Sayyid Qutb and Hassan al-Banna. Presently, he is seen as a pan-Islamic thinker whose influence has gone beyond the geographical confines of the subcontinent.

Maulana Maududi also challenged contemporary ideas of Secularism, Socialism and Capitalism. He supported what he called “Islamisation from above “through an Islamic state in which sovereignty would be exercised in the name of Allah and Islamic law would be implemented....

Princess Sakinah (RA) Teaches Us Justice and Unity
Dr Amineh Hoti

Looking around at her home, she said, “I was reflecting on the story of Moses the other day and when I heard that God granted his people, after he saved them from Pharaoh, Mano Salwa, I thought that Mano Salwa is a symbol of all of God’s blessings — the food, the clothes, the knowledge and so forth. We must see and acknowledge and be grateful with a humble heart. I have learnt that nothing is about me, my children and family — it is about humanity.”….

 
Iqbal and Colonial Legacy
Dr Muhammad Maroof Shah

For Iqbal the sectarian debate on Fiqh schools, on illegitimacy of Sufism, prevalence of  negative attitude to the world, to reason, to science in the name of Islam/Sufism, fossilization of Madrasa curriculum, reluctance for absolute Ijtihad, suspicion of egalitarian democratic spirit are all legacies of imperialism, Western and others. Education in the sense Iqbal conceived it is almost absent today in Indian subcontinent, both in religious and secular schools. What the poets conceived and built in his dream has been ruined by the politician as he himself had feared....

 

Vision of Allama Iqbal
Reema Shaukat

The depth of love, affection and respect among the Turkish people and leadership for Muhammad Iqbal is visible today because of his immense services for Islam and contribution to Turkish causes including during the Balkan wars and Turkey’s War of Independence. It was quite a moment of pride with nostalgia that we as a nation are so blessed that Allama Iqbal was our visionary leader, whose wisdom, poetry and foresightedness is still a vigil for us after many decades….

 

Iqbal’s Lenin
Mahir Ali

Among those keeping a keen eye on the Soviet experiment was Allama Muhammad Iqbal. I am reminded in this context of the Pakistani journalist with the pen name Meem Sheen, a devotee of Iqbal, who insisted that communism plus God essentially summed up the sub-continental poet’s philosophy….

 

Sir Syed’s Approach to Science and Religion
Salman Hameed

It is in this context that we can look at Sir Syed’s approach to science and religion. One of the foundational principles he laid out for his Tafsir stated that, “nothing in the Quran contradicts the law of nature”. For him, the “Work of God” cannot contradict the “Word of God” (Sir Syed used these English words in his Urdu Tafsir). Any contradiction is apparent, according to him, and he provides a detailed framework for interpreting the Quran in any such circumstances. For example, he blamed the adoption of Greek astronomy into the commentaries of the Quran for the resulting Islamic opposition...

 

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan: From Ruins to Reform – II
Raza Naeem

There were lots of objections against Sir Syed. It was said of him that he was an Anglophile and that his attitude in response to Western thought was merely apologetic. These objections still persist even today. The objections were of two types. Firstly from the fundamentalists there were Fatwas of him being infidel and so on. Secondly, the nationalists called him a lackey of the British: that in his passion for the adoption of new thoughts and visions, he had become a great ally and propagandist of the British government; and had come to appear as an Anglophile to an extreme degree in order to pave the way for British strategy and decision-making....

 

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan's Contribution and Relevance Goes Much Deeper
Yasmin Saikia

Anecdotes point against the narrow understanding of Sir Syed whose liberality and cosmopolitanism warrant a deeper look to rethink and appreciate his contribution and relevance in our times, as India embarks on the path of joining the community of developed nations. Sir Syed is one the 19th century leaders who paved the way for this transformation of India into an enlightened member of the global human community....

Misreading Sir Syed: He Is Erroneously Believed To Be A Proponent Of The Two-Nation Theory
Faizan Mustafa

“This man (Sir Syed) is erring and causes people to err. He is rather an agent of the devil and wants to mislead Muslims. It is a sin to support the college. May God damn the founder! And if this college (MAO College which in 1920 was converted into Aligarh Muslim University) has been founded, it must be demolished and its founder and his supporters thrown out of the fold of Islam,” declared the Imam of Mecca in his fatwa against Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. On the 200th birth anniversary of this great educationist and social reformer, particularly in the context of the current wave of aggressive nationalism, an effort should be made to understand his vision of India....

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan: From Ruins to Reform – I

.... Mirza Ghalib essentially asks him such questions: “What worth is there in these ancient texts? Why are you engaged in worshipping the past and nourishing the dead? Come out of it and see the variety of amazing scientific inventions the savants of the West have pioneered like the ship, the electric wire, the matchstick, steam-powered machines and even greater than these a code, a law and a system!”....

 
Invoking Bibi Zainab (RA)
Dr Shenila Khoja-Moolji

Invoking Bibi Zainab (RA)

Bibi Zainab’s (RA) sermon also highlights the gendered nature of violence as she narrates the ways in which Yazid and his armies humiliated the women of the Prophet’s (pbuh) family:

“O progeny of the freedman of the Prophet (pbuh)! Is this your justice? Your daughters, your slave girls, your dear women are all sitting behind the curtain and the daughters of the Prophet (pbuh), in shackles, unveiled, stand before you. Your men take us from town to town where all sorts of people, whether they be residents of the hills or of riversides have been looking at us.”....

 
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