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Books and Documents

Islamic Society

Folk Islamic Traditions Are Dying Out In Pakistan, a Harsher Law for Ramzan Violations Shows Why
Haroon Khalid

Pir Munawar, like Nanak’s ascetics, also only ate when offered food and engaged in physical hardship to attain spirituality. This is a feature of folk Islam, which borrows heavily from the diverse spiritual traditions of this land. It does not adhere to any strict notions of exclusivity, leaving room for even non-Muslims to engage in its practices. There is room for Nanak and his Gurudwara in this religiosity. One of the men in the grove said his elders, who used to live with Sikhs before the Partition, held Nanak as a holy figure and his Gurudwara sacred....

 

Interfaith Iftar at Pakistan Embassy
Akbar Ahmed

When I mentioned to Ambassador Chaudhry the irony of Bill Maher’s remarks in the context of the interfaith conviviality around us as we broke our fast, the Ambassador smiled broadly. Perhaps he was thinking that for the interfaith Iftar next year he would request Bill Maher to come and see for himself how Pakistan and other Muslim countries, in spite of the serious challenges they face such as terrorism, can be great centres of bridge building and dialogue between faiths....

The most important message of Ramadan is that we are not just body. We are body and soul. And that what makes us human beings and that determines our value as human beings. During Ramazan we deprive the body to uplift the soul. This is all simple and familiar. But we can understand its significance if we remember that the message of the materialistic hedonistic global culture that has engulfed every Muslim land today — just like the rest of the world— is exactly the opposite.....

 

Islam’s Modesty Is for Both Men and Women
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

In the context of proper attire and conduct, the Quran enjoins modesty on men too and only when the men have attained that level of modesty should they feel justified in talking about the modesty of others. “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (avoiding its concentration on a person’s body, or a certain part of it) and to be mindful of their chastity; in this they will be more considerate for their own well-being and purity, and surely God is fully aware of all that they do (Q24: 30-31)." From certain imams insisting that earthquakes are caused by women not wearing proper dresses to muftis excommunicating Muslim women, the intellectual level of discourse that surrounds Muslim women is excruciating....

The Joy of Hope: Hope, an Integral Part of Our Islamic Faith, Must Stay With Us from Cradle to Grave
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

When the first ever offender fell under the trap of Satan, and all goodness abandoned him and all evil surrounded him, only you were with him. Only you saved him from his abject dejection. Only you saved his bereaved heart from total annihilation. Only you brought him out of his humiliation and gave him his high position again where angels had once prostrated before him....

 

Given the high level of pride Muslims have for the Golden Age, it is surprising how little examination or even awareness Muslims give to this early decline. This decline coincided with fundamental changes in religious doctrines reflected in the decline of a rationalist school of thought (the Muatazilites) and the rise of a traditionalist one (the Ashaarites) whose influence continues to dominate till this day. A fact that eludes most Muslims today is that the majority of the star scientists and thinkers of the Golden Age were followers of the rationalist school of thought.....

Muslims Today Face a Deep Malaise, We Must Confront It
Nabil Echchaibi

Instead, you ask me to denounce – even apologize for – the horrors of Manchester, Nice, Orlando, Paris and Berlin, as if I were a silent accomplice cheering softly behind the garb of my faith. You mistake my silence for duplicity, my shock for deceit, and my choking inability to comprehend for disloyalty. But have you asked me how I feel instead of how you feel about me? Well, I feel morally and psychologically exhausted....

Conquering Minds: The ISIS Is a Manifestation of the Intellectual Bankruptcy of the Muslim Ruling Elites
Muhammad Amir Rana

The ISIS is a manifestation of the intellectual bankruptcy of the Muslim ruling elites. The real challenge thus is not the expansion of the group in physical spaces, but the mindset of the ruling elites and their partners, ie the clergy, which is scared of new ideas. They don’t realise that their traditionalism and orthodoxy are eroding their own foundations....

 

Charity and Terror Financing
Dr Huma Baqai

The link between charity and terror financing is also a phenomenon which jelled in the eighties. Many charitable and service organizations emerged that served as fronts for international terrorist groups, providing them funding, material, recruits and more. Authorities globally have failed to take decisive action against the vast network of charities identified as tied to terrorist groups. For countries like Pakistan, it is an even more difficult to address....

 

A Diverse World: Diversity Is Something Natural
Kashif Shahzada

It was revealed to the Messenger (PBUH) that everyone is responsible for his own conduct and is answerable to God on his own; therefore if people are not receptive to the message then he should not despair. Under no circumstances are people to be compelled to follow the course of righteousness. And his job was only to deliver the message, while it rested on God to hold the people to account. This standard is in stark contrast to the holier-than-thou mindset that prevails in many who think that they are on some sort of a divine mission to compel the people towards ‘righteousness’....

 

We Must Refrain From Defying the True Spirit of Ramadan
Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi

“If you observe fasting, then it should be that you are fasting from hearing and seeing evils and telling lies, besides not doing any harm to your servant. As for fasting, it has some manners, respect and dignity, and that should be adhered to and maintained while staying away from everything that comes in the purview of falsehood.”...

Ramzan — a Time to Cleanse One’s Heart
Sadia Dehlvi

Fasting has been a tradition of prophets and mystics, holding timeless wisdom. Rumi writes, “Hunger is God’s food for which he quickens the bodies of the upright.” Shaqiq Balkhi, a ninth century mystic, taught that 40 days of constant hunger could transform the darkness of the heart into light. Sahl Tustari, another early mystic, fasted perpetually and earned the title of Shaykh ul Arifin, master of the knowers. He said, “Hunger is God’s secret on the earth.” Ramzan is an extraordinary time to cleanse one’s heart of spiritual maladies and to get closer to God.....

Remember the Less Fortunate This Ramadan
Aijaz Zaka Syed

From Iraq and Syria to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Muslims are being killed at the hands of lunatics who call themselves Muslims. These terror attacks in Europe, in Iraq and Afghanistan ostensibly carried out by an extremist fringe bring nothing but shame to the believers and help the agenda of their enemies. While we enjoy the blessings of the holy month in the comforting safety of our homes with our families and look forward to Eid, there are thousands for whom life is a daily struggle....

 

How Saudi Arabia Betrays the Muslim World
Faraz Talat

Why does Saudi Arabia mean so much to us, when we mean so little to them? What would it take for Saudi Arabia to reciprocate the support and respect we’ve been granting it unconditionally, for many generations? How long would it take for the Muslim world to address the elephant in the room, and acknowledge this great betrayal...

Saudi Arabia is Destabilizing the World: From Mumbai to Manchester, We Feel Its Effects

Saudi Arabia has been working for decades to pull Indonesia away from moderate Islam and toward the austere Wahhabi form that is state religion in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis’ campaign has been patient, multi-faceted, and lavishly financed. It mirrors others they have waged in Muslim countries across Asia and Africa....

 

Wahhabi Movement was a 17th century reform movement that began in Persia with a view to see the basic tenets of Islam were followed strictly and with sincerity. The movement was started by one Wahhab in the 18th century and therefore it was named after him. Wahhabi movement was popularised in India by the Islamic religious leader, Shah Waliullah....

 

Muslims Must Unite In Mass Movement against Extremists
Ameer Ali

Such a mass movement must originate from the most prestigious centres of Sunni and Shia Islam, such as the holy cities of Mecca and Medina and Karbala, and from intellectual centres such as the Al-Azhar in Egypt. Every available media device and pulpits in the mosques must be used to send the message of disapproval in the most unambiguous language.....

Saudi Arabia Allows Concerts—Even Country Music

Some Saudis still can’t stand it. Cinemas and concerts are “a depravity”, said the kingdom’s grand mufti, Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, in January. But what really set off the conservatives was a Comic-Con event in Jeddah a month later. Young geeks dressed up as comic-book superheroes, boys and girls mingled and some even danced together. Imams accused the attendees of idolatry and debauchery....

 

      All the important stations of spiritual path including Tauba, Wara', Zuhd, Faqr, Sabr, Tawakkul, and Riza, of which Sufis are said to be specialists, are necessarily to be tasted by a pilgrim – they constitute God’s offer/ choicest dishes to his guests in special five days of Zilhajj. A pilgrim is required to journey within to the sanctum sanctorum (heart) – and a thorough knowledge of symbolism of rites and sites in hajj is important here. Pilgrimage is a marriage that is to be consummated in new birth....

A Fatwa against Fatwas
Zaigham Khan

The website of Darul Uloom Haqqania states five objectives of the institution. While its first objective is to produce religious scholars, its second stated goal is to produce “men of action who can wage jihad against infidels for greatness of the word of God”. The fifth is to produce “such political activists/politicians who could confront oppressive rulers and save the nation from slavery of Jews and Christians.”...

 

Ramadan Is a Month of Work and Devotion
Mahmoud Ahmad

The Prophet said, “Verily, the bankrupt of my nation are those who come on the Day of Resurrection with prayers, fasting, and charity, but also with insults, slander, consuming wealth, shedding blood, and beating others. The oppressed will each be given from his good deeds. If his good deeds run out before justice is fulfilled, then their sins will be cast upon him and he will be thrown into the Hellfire.”…

 

Ramadan: A Spiritual Gym Where Muslims Work On Metaphysical Muscles through More Deliberate Disciplines, Prayer, Reflections and Worship
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

Before his Prophethood, Muhammad   used to spend the entirety of the sacred month of Ramadan in solitude, at Cave Hira, escaping the corruption of the mercantile class in Makkah while contemplating Divine Truth. Today, when Muslims observe Ramadan, we echo our Prophet's solitude, fasting by day and praying at night, yet we do not fully seclude ourselves from the secular.  We have to balance our quotidian tasks without allowing our conscience to be sullied by the dross of materialism….

 

Fasting may sound strenuous, and it is, but it’s also an act of devotion during a month filled with immense joy, culminating in the feasts of Eid al-Fitr. There’s an emphasis on community and charity, self-reflection and kindness. The absence of food can deepen its meaning: After pushing through long stretches of hunger and thirst, there is a heightened sense of gratitude and delight that comes with breaking the fast while surrounded by family and friends....

 

The fatwa, whose contents are though not new to the scholars of the field, has nine points which can be summarized as follows: a) there is no room for religious extremism and terrorism in the name of Islam, b) those who commit (suicide) terrorism are rebels, c) Fasad-fil-Ard (persecution) is un-Islamic and the Islamic state (of Pakistan) has the right to curb it with military means, d) only the Islamic state (of Pakistan) has the constitutional prerogative to enact Islamic injunctions, and not any (armed) individual or group....

 

In The Age of Islamic Literalism We Should Remember the Egyptian Scholar Who Fought Back
Robert Fisk

In the age of Isis, we should remember Nasr Abu Zeid. He was a hero of his time, who would, had he lived – now that the Salafist cult has been let loose in the Europe of his exile as well as the Egypt that was his home – have long ago been murdered. Before I telephoned him for the first time in Cairo, I wondered if he’d be still alive to talk to me by the time I reached his home.....

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