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Islamic Society

Madina Masjid is a fully ethnic mosque, meaning the congregants are homogenous and predominantly Urdu Speaking. Most of them are from India and Pakistan.  Other than the ritual prayers, all other talk is in Urdu. Those who come fresh from India or Pakistan may feel home at this Mosque, it is a continuation of every practice that is done back home....

Community Iftaar at Masjid does not mean we sit with our family and friends of same ethnic background to breakfast. It means we breach the barriers we have created and create a bond of brotherhood and sisterhood by building friendships and relationships with brothers and sisters beyond our ethnic background during these If tar’s....

It is a call from God to learn about each other and know each other, when we do that, myths about others disappear, we open up to friendships without reserve or fear. Tonight is the 2nd day of Ramadan, and I went to the Richardson Mosque,...  A majority of the Mosques (Sunni tradition) more or less follow the traditions followed here. This is the first “major” Mosque in North Texas and almost every Muslim who has been in Dallas prior to turn of the century has been a part of this Mosque....

Allah Hafiz and Loss of Muslim Self
Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
Allah Hafiz and Loss of Muslim Self
By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

It is unfortunate but true that more and more Muslims are getting detached from their own cultural moorings. This detachment and slow re-coupling with an Arab Islamic tradition is going to do immense harm to Muslims, especially those who are living in multicultural societies like in India. Gradually, this would lead to becoming estranged from our own surroundings and neighbourhoods which then leads to the development of negative stereotypes about other communities.

It is imperative for an Indian Muslim, not just to know about their rich historic specificity of living together, but also appreciate and participate in the lives of other communities. The process of slow Arabisation must therefore be arrested not only because it is politically necessary but also because of the simple fact that no community can lead a healthy life without a sense of rootedness. There is a need therefore for a context specific theology which is altogether lacking....

This is an effort to document and record the Iftaar experience with every Muslim denomination, it is a journal of how each tradition within Islam, and a sub sect within each practices Ramadan. The biggest idea that jumps out is seeing the differences and understanding that they are cultural and not religious. There is one thing that I have been missing in the mosques; fellowship....

Well if you are ready for some heavy duty rotten attitude of some of the ‘real people of faith’, then you have a couple of more days to go. Here comes Ramazan, with all its fervour. Poor household help gets the worst treatment, especially in this month, just because their employers are starving. You dig deeper and they have the usual — you guessed it — their fasting as an excuse. Hmm....

 

Muslims in Pakistan and all over the world are ready for daily fasting and prayer, seeking to come closer to God and fellow human beings. It is a serious and joyful time. It is a time for reflection and also for good deeds. It is a time for sacrifice and for feast. And above all, it is a time to feel compassion with people who suffer, and perhaps make their burden a bit lighter by trying to understand their difficulties....

Nikahnama Should Be Accepted As Marriage Certificate
By Ashish Tripathi & Shailvee Sharda

"Muslims have no problems with marriage registration. In fact Islam is the only religion with an elaborate system of marriage registration. Our system is age-old and has a presence even in the remotest village. The document is available with the Quazis, who solemnise Nikah,...

The Sense of A Community
Christophe Jaffrelot
The Sense of A Community
By Christophe Jaffrelot

Many of the elderly we interviewed emphasised the past composite culture of their city in evocative and emotional terms: they kept using formulae such as mili juli/mushtarka/ganga-jamuni tehzeeb. Their nostalgia was, for the most part, misplaced since Indian cities have always been structured along ethnic lines....

Beef Eating + Arabic Name = Indian Muslim
Saif Shahin is a research scholar at the University of Texas at Austin
Beef Eating + Arabic Name = Indian Muslim
By Saif Shahin, New Age Islam

To be a Muslim in India, thus, you need to devour beef―copiously and often―and have an Arabic name. A few other candid markers of difference, such as the burqa and the beard, have started challenging this duopoly in recent years, but little else matters. You may cheat people and lie to your heart’s content. You may even murder and maim. In the hearts of the solicitous Indian ummah, a Muslim you remain. The first Kalima restricts itself to the uniqueness of Allah and the prophet hood of Muhammad, and there is no reference to beef in the other four pillars of Islam either. Throughout the Quran and the archives of Hadith, it may be mentioned but only in passing. Yet, the eating of beef is the litmus test of being a Muslim in India....

Indian Madrasas, A Shocking State Of Affairs: Reflections Of A Recent Madrasa Graduate
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam
Indian Madrasas, A Shocking State Of Affairs: Reflections Of A Recent Madrasa Graduate
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam

This is mainly because of the administrators and custodians who range from the uneducated rich, ignorant businessmen, local politicians to low-profile miserly maulvis and selfish maulanas who fix their eyes on the huge profit coming out of their investment in building madrasas. Just by publicising their madrasas through posters and stories about the “help” they are providing to underprivileged Muslim children and poor students, they receive huge amounts of donation and abundant charity from wealthy Muslims, not to speak of Arab petrodollars and in some cases government largesse, but when it comes to spending, they seem reluctant to spend even the proverbial penny on their students, or even teachers. ......

What’s in a name? Ask a Muslim buying or renting property in the city that never sleeps. Mumbai, which prides itself on its cosmopolitan character, is divided on religion, food habits and language. When radio jockey Yunus Khan wanted a house in Gorai in suburban Mumbai, he was told it was a “Sena type” area — a reference to the saffron political party Shiv Sena.

“Agents told us it was not possible to get a flat in Gorai,” Mr. Khan told The Hindu. “They said Muslims are not preferred. I am married to a Hindu woman. So they suggested purchasing a flat in my wife’s name. But living anonymously is not possible. Letters and bank statements will be in my name.” Mr. Khan’s brother faced the same problem, while looking for rental accommodation in suburban Kandivali’s Charkop area. What’s in a name? Ask a Muslim buying or renting property in the city that never sleeps. Mumbai, which prides itself on its cosmopolitan character, is divided on religion, food habits and language.

A Recipe for Madrasa Education
Manzoorul Haque, New Age Islam
A Recipe for Madrasa Education
Manzoorul Haque, New Age Islam

In our understanding, madrasa is nothing but a school by another name. Yes some special and additional subjects are also taught like – Quran, Hadiths and Hifz as a curriculum of activity, and Qirrat as an art in order to produce Islamic instructors who have to preside over some community activities such as pesh imamat etc. But all these subjects can also be studied as part of the schooling. Of course not every Islamic student has to do Qirrat or Hifz. Some of the students can opt for these depending on aptitude.

It is therefore suggested that in a madrasa, vernacular language can be used to learn/teach Science, Social Science, Maths, Computers, English as link language (there is an abridged curriculum along with books developed on all these subjects by IGNOU and no further labour is needed to design the course material). A compulsory subject of basic Islamiat, and one optional specialization scheme with any one of the three as optionals – Quran and Hadith (Higher paper in Islamiat) or Qirrat or Hifz and another optional subject – a vocational skill subject shall also be part of the curriculum.

Madrasas Need Reform, Not Committees
Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
Madrasas Need Reform, Not Committees
Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

Every time there is some demand of modernizing madrasas, Muslim religious leaders start making a hue and cry about it. The cry of Islam in danger starts reeking from the pulpits and big seminaries and their representatives see to it that any effort of reform is blocked. Making madrasas an issue of Muslim identity can only hurt the Muslim community educationally. Realizing this, a section of Muslims themselves have started demanding changes in curriculum of the madrasa so that it can be made more in tune with the times. Alas, their efforts have bore no fruit as these reform minded Muslims are not considered a viable vote bank for successive governments who have pandered to the reactionary demands of the conservative Ulama. There is an educational hunger among Muslims now and given a choice, a Muslim parent would send his children to a school rather than a madrasa. But it is the religious leadership of the community which is blocking any development of the Muslims. Ironically enough, this leadership has the backing of the state which erroneously believes the Ulama are the representatives of the Muslim community.

The National Council of Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI), in a report submitted to the government argued that there was an urgent need to reform madrasa education in this country. It has also suggested ways to implement reform in a phased manner and as a first step has suggested the creation of an All India Madrasa Board to implement reforms. That report must be gathering dust in some office of the government of India. Rather than creating a new committee to look into madrasa modernization, the government of the day would do much better to look into the report submitted by one of its own departments (NCMEI)….      

The Islamic Society of Papua New Guinea was formed in 1983, and Islam soon acquired a following in the Highlands, especially the Southern and Western Highlands and Simbu, Jiwaka and Oro provinces, where the religion’s principles were perceived to have a strong affinity with local cultures and societies. Today, there are approximately 2,000 Muslims in Papua New Guinea. The main center for national activities and worship is the mosque located in Port Moresby…

 

Recently, Declan Walsh’s piece, “In a Troubled Country, Still Time for High Society” (published June 24, 2012) in The New York Times, about the high society in Pakistan, offers a glimpse of a world of Louboutins and designer lawn. Thus, for the audience abroad, Pakistan seems like a burqa-clad woman wearing the skimpiest bikini underneath. There’s no better metaphor to describe the tantalising spectre of Pakistan’s liberal-conservative dichotomy that captivates the Western imaginary....

Burqa and Health Implications for Women: Two Aspects
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam
Burqa and Health Implications for Women: Two Aspects
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

In the medical community there is a good deal of concern about the health and psychological effects of the extreme styles of Islamic dress. The main issue is the lack of Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of skin being exposed to the sun. So I would like to suggest that one should not follow either extreme, i.e., do not wear a head to toe burqa and do not wear fully revealing clothes; wear according to the climate and the surrounding but make sure it is modest. It would be uncomfortable to wear a burqa in a sultry climate; similarly it will be uncomfortable to wear skimpy clothes in a cold climate….

But historians say their campaign of destruction in the UNESCO-listed city is pulverizing part of the history of Islam in Africa, which includes a centuries-old message of tolerance. "They are striking at the heart of what Timbuktu stands for ... Mali and the world is losing a lot," Souleymane Bachir Diagne, a professor at New York's Columbia University and an expert on Islamic philosophy in Africa, told Reuters....

 
Attitude Formation: The Tragic Case of Pakistan
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam
Attitude Formation: The Tragic Case of Pakistan
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

In Psychology, ‘attitude’ refers to people’s evaluation of virtually any aspect of their social world. In Pakistan, many schools feed their children with religious extremism and anti-India views. They are taught: A as 'Allah', B as 'bandook' (gun), T as 'takrao' (confrontation), J as 'jehad', H as 'hijab' (veil), Kh as 'khanjar' (dagger) and Ze as 'zunoob'. These are tough times for Pakistan because the young generation is being injected with a negative mental attitude towards non-Muslims and India. ...

Can celebrity and fashion save Pakistan from its dark image? “We’re not out to save the world,”.... “But this is a starting point, to show that we’re not all a bunch of terrorists with beards.” “Its life within the bubble,” said Shakir Husain, a software entrepreneur who set up Fashionist as against the Taliban, a satirical Facebook group that has acquired cult status in Pakistani social media. “And that bubble is filled with self-congratulatory nonsense.”....

In Iran, They Want Fun, Fun, Fun
Nicholas D. Kristof
In Iran, They Want Fun, Fun, Fun
Nicholas D. Kristof

“Young people don’t really go to the mosques,” said a 23-year-old man in eastern Iran, cheerfully exaggerating. “We want more ways to have fun.” He said he drinks — alcohol is illegal but everywhere — and, until recently, used drugs. Iranian officials have suggested that perhaps 10 percent of the population uses illegal drugs, traditionally opium and heroin but increasingly methamphetamines as well. Western policy makers see Iran as fanatical, the same way they saw China in the 1960s. ...

Falling Muslim Fertility Rates Raise Grave Concerns
Saif Shahin is a research scholar at the University of Texas at Austin
Falling Muslim Fertility Rates Raise Grave Concerns
Saif Shahin, New Age Islam

Births per women in Muslim countries is declining sharply, according to research by political economists Nicholas Eberstadt and Apoorva Shah. They write: “Six of the ten largest absolute declines in fertility for a two-decade period yet recorded in the post-war [WWII] era (and by extension, we may suppose, ever to take place under orderly conditions in human history) have occurred in Muslim-majority countries.” Of these, the top four are all Muslim countries? Oman, Maldives, Kuwait and Iran each of them has suffered a decline of more than 4.5 births per woman in just 20 years, Oman leading the list with a decline of 5.3 births per woman. The other two Muslim countries in the top ten are Algeria and Libya. ...

Muslims Must Shun Their Religiosity
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam
Muslims Must Shun Their Religiosity
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

Majority of the Muslims all around the world are considered to be too much inclined towards religion; they are called fundamentalists, both in the positive as well in the negative sense. In the positive sense, a fundamentalist Muslim is one who offers five time prayer every day, fasts in the month of Ramadan, gives Zakat (charity), if possible goes for hajj (pilgrimage) etc. In the negative sense, a fundamentalist Muslim is one who is ready to kill the infidels and be killed, who wants to turn the whole world in to Dar ul- Islam (house of Islam). ...

One of the words used in the Quran for this purpose is Sadqa (4:4), meaning the gift that is given in good faith and as a good deed, out of generosity, without meaning to aggrandise oneself. The other word used in the Quran is ajr (33:50). This word means a reward and is also used to denote wages. It is given as a gift to the woman who is going to leave her family and the security of her home, and is risking adjustment in a new and unknown set-up....

Islam, Slavery and Saudi Arabia
Ghulam Rasool, New Age Islam
Islam, Slavery and Saudi Arabia
Ghulam Rasool, New Age Islam

Being the birthplace of Islam Saudi Arabia should have come to the fore to condemn and uproot slavery from world to fulfil the clearly expressed desire of the Prophet of Islam. But on the contrary, Saudi Arabia has been a hub for both female and male slaves trafficked for the purposes of involuntary servitude and commercial sexual exploitation. Men and women from a large number of countries including India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sudan, Ethiopia are hired in Saudi Arabia as domestic servants or other low-skilled labourers, but many of them subsequently face inhumane restrictions and torments, withholding of passports, threats, physical and sexual abuse and non-payment of wages. ...

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