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Books and Documents

Islamic Personalities

Shirin Ebadi - The Campaigner Who Has Become an International Figurehead for Women's Rights
Shirin Ebadi

If there is a single face identified with the defence of women’s rights in Iran it is that of Shirin Ebadi. Her influence has spread across the Muslim world, after she became the first Iranian, and the first Muslim woman, to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Since winning the prize in 2003, she has used the power of her global platform to continue to campaign in favour of human rights in Iran, at some considerable risk to herself.....

 

Asghar Ali Engineer’s Islam: the Reformist as Pacifist
Asghar Ali Engineer

“History is full of instances of people who challenged the mighty forces of evil and they were not only fighting a lonely battle but were left alone to die. If somebody asked me about achievement I would have to talk qualitatively because my forces have depleted. So what? People who were swearing by my values finally succumbed. I have been ex-communicated.”...

 

The Mystique of Mai Sahiba
Sadia Dehlvi

The Dargah of Mai Sahiba at Adchini near Mehrauli is one of my favourite Sufi spaces in Delhi. Her Urs, death anniversary, was celebrated last week. Along with hundreds of devotees, I sought blessings at her threshold. Each time I visit her Dargah, I am reminded of Mai Sahiba’s unwavering faith in God through all her trials and tribulations. Bibi Zulekha, popularly called Mai Sahiba, is the mother of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya....

 

(I have seen nothing but the grace – of God),” The above phrase is proof enough of the identity of the Great Lady whose birthday we mark on the 5th of Jamadi al-Awwal every year with celebrations for her nurturing Islam back to life after history’s most heartrending tragedy. She expressed this phrase not in a state of ease, comfort, joys, and amenities, but in a state where the weak of heart, mind and soul, would wish death to be a welcome relief….

 

Imam Ghazali The Renowned Islamic Scholar
Sketch of Imam Ghazali

Imam Al-Ghazali is one of the greatest Islamic Jurists, theologians, entitled as Hujjatul Islam, (Ornament of the Faith)," Sharaful A'emma (Honor of the Scholar), Zainuddin "Great Siddîq," absolute Mujtahid, a major, a debater and expert in the principles of doctrine and jurisprudence. Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the renowned scholar of our time, states that, like ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz and Imam al-Shafi‘i for their respective times, al-Ghazali is unanimously considered as the Renewer (Mujaddid) of the Fifth Islamic Century....

Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya: The Compassion Master
Sadia Dehlvi

Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya is also known as Mahboob-e-Elahi, meaning the Beloved of Allah. According to the Islamic calendar, this year the 709th Urs celebrations of this great Chishti Sufi master commence on the eve of February 28. The Dargah is representative of Delhi’s language, poetry, food, music and architecture. Just as in the life of Hazrat Nizamuddin, the Dargah continues to attract people from all sections of society, irrespective of class, creed, gender and faith.....

The Prophet Mohammed from Western Eyes
Sarwat Husain

Lamartine, in his history of Turkey published in 1854, wrote, “If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius, who would dare to compare any great man in modern history with Mohammad? “The most famous men create arms, law and empire only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers ... This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, people and dynasties, but millions of men in the one third of the then-inhabited world.”....

Rebranding Faiz Ahmad Faiz
Faiz Ahmad Faiz

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....

Prophetic Muhammad (pbuh)’s Prophetic Model and Legacy
Sadia Dehlvi

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 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

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….

Begum Rokeya: Tale of a Visionary, Bengal’s Earliest Muslim Feminist
Mohammad A. Quayum

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

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

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….

 

'Iqbal Never Demanded Separate Home for Muslims outside India'
Sir Muhammad Iqbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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....

 
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