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Islamic Society

The trend of targeting schools and teachers started with the Afghan war. Steve Coll writes in his book Ghost Wars that during the Afghan war a Brigadier Yusuf and the squads trained by him regarded the professors at Kabul University as fair game. Michael Griffin explains in his book Reaping the Whirlwind why teachers in Afghanistan had been one of the soft targets of the Jihad, with some 2,000 assassinated and 15,000 forced to abandon the profession out of fear of their lives. In Nangarhar, one commander admitted to burning down the local primary school and slaughtering its nine teachers, because that was where the communists were believed to be being trained.

Unlike the Afghan schools which were bombed due to their alleged links with communists, the schools dynamited in FATA and Swat valley would hardly have qualified as breeding ground for communism. The same can be said for the Algerian schools that were bombed. The intolerance shown by militants for schools is telling. This bigoted attitude towards secular education is inbuilt in the Taliban ideology. The Taliban project is about tyranny: implementing "Islam" at gunpoint. They don't believe in convincing people. They want to coerce people into leading a life according to Taliban rules. Secular education, they fear, leads towards enlightenment and liberation, and both enlightenment and liberation are antithetical to the Taliban's ideology. After all, as a leader of the French Revolution points out, "the secret of liberty is to enlighten men, as that of tyranny is to maintain their ignorance." -- Farooq Sulehria

 

How honest is General Hamid Gul, the saviour of Pakistan, the guardian of jihadis and the Taliban?

Uzma Gul, the daughter of former ISI chief General Hamid Gul, runs a transport company called Varan Bus Service in Rawalpindi and Islamabad and has, through her strong connections with the establishment, got monopoly in bus services in some areas in violation of the Constitution of Pakistan. 10 or 11 army generals are the shareholders in her company. She started the Varan Tours with millions of rupees loaned to her and her husband by the Askari bank and now she has a fleet of buses running from Rawalpindi to Taxila. Varan Bus Service is owned by the daughter of the former ISI chief, General Hameed Gul, now the most right wing spokesman of Islamic fundamentalists of Pakistan. His politics of course started after he had secured the financial and economic interests and for his family, using his General’s uniform as the password.

Apart from her transport business, she runs her export and import business of pharmaceuticals, wool and beverages.

Her company is so powerful that event the traffic is afraid of challenging its operators over traffic law violations. The buses run by her had killed 17 people in the past four years. Once she was also arrested and put behind bars by military police but her powerful father got her out.

Uzma Gul and her father Hamid Gul do not leave any opportunity to acquire land or business opportunity. According to Daily Pakistan, although the daughter of the ex-ISI chief Hameed Gul claimed that he had only two squares of land, the paper referred to an investigative report which gave proof that he had acquired 15 squares of land along the Indian border at a time when he was serving as a major. He ousted a number of farmers from their land who then moved the High Court. When the court decided the matter in his favour by the year 1986 he had become corps commander and was well on his way to becoming the ISI chief and many plaintiffs had begun to stand down.

Other headlines:

PPPP warns against Varan ‘monopoly’

They accused the government of pushing hundreds of poor transporters to starvation

Hameed Gul's daughter speaks out!

Uzma Gul the transporter

Hameed Gul's acquired land

Coming on the heels of the Ashura tragedy, the two blasts in Karachi on Friday are a reminder that sectarian violence poses one of the greatest threats to Pakistani society. Well over 4,000 people have been killed inthe past two decades in sectarian - involving primarily Shia- Sunni  violence. Although no group has claimed responsibility for Friday's attacks,fingers are pointing at banned sectarian outfits such as Jundullah and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi. No doubt, radicalised militants are behind the kinds of anti-Shia attacks we saw on Dec 28, and again on Friday. But the time has come to put sectarian violence in a broader perspective.Such violence can no longer be denounced as the work of fringe elements, an accident of history or politics. Instead, it must be recognised as symptom of an increasingly intolerant and divisive society. --Huma Yusuf

'My name is Osama... And I am a Gujju trader'

For Muslims across the world, life changed drastically, and in many ways, after 9/11. Finding rented accommodation became increasingly difficult, a beard and skull cap invited wary stares on buses and trains, and the police randomly picked up innocent Muslim youth on suspicion of being involved in terrorist activities. It's the unfairness of the entire situation that makes Shah Rukh Khan's character in My Name is Khan repeatedly clarify: "My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist."

But leave Khan aside. It's a movie, after all. What if your name is Osama, Saddam or Dawood in real life and you live in communally sensitive Gujarat? Do people immediately see the shadow of a terrorist lurking behind the name? These names had become popular at different points of time in the past. For instance, many children were named Saddam immediately after the first Gulf War in 1990, when the former Iraqi dictator was hailed as a hero in the Muslim world for taking on the might of the Western armies. These children have grown up today and what should have been just a name suddenly isn't. -- Robin David

Photo: Saddam Banjara, offering namaz at the Sarkhej Roza in Ahmedabad, says he is proud of his name and will live with it

We are not a police state in the political sense of the term. This is not a country behind any kind of iron curtain and, the notoriety of our intelligence services notwithstanding, we do not have anything like the East German Stasi prying into every aspect of national life. We have one of the freest media in the Islamic world. Our kind of talk shows would not be permitted in most Muslim countries.

While we should count our blessings we should not forget that in the social sense this is a very repressed society. The pity of it is that it wasn't always like this. Once upon a time mosque and tavern stood side by side (in a metaphorical sense of course) and even as they did, no one said Islam was in danger. How distant that time seems. We were Muslims in 1947; we are Muslims now. There is a difference, however. Today we wear our religion on our sleeves and shout it from the housetops. -- Ayaz Amir

When it comes to forced marriages, journalists and media still fail to understand that it is not just an assault on the woman’s basic human rights, but also, and especially, on her sexuality. In a forced marriage, the fact is that the woman is forced to engage in sexual relations with a man she has not chosen herself. Furthermore, this sexual relationship often lasts a lifetime, as divorce is rarely an option for the women. ...

Forced sexual relations between close family members is not only psychologically traumatizing, but also biologically unnatural. According to the article “The inbreeding of immigrants costs millions” in the Danish daily BT on the 10th of November 2003, the consequences are often physical and mental handicaps: “When two cousins have children, the risk of having a handicapped child is doubled – and that costs the municipalities,” and further, “Already in year 2000 it was calculated that while 13 percent of all children in Copenhagen were immigrants, they also made up 24 percent of severely handicapped children.”

Unfortunately, in many forced marriages in Muslim culture, the bride is very young. As the young girls are without any realistic possibility of resisting the marriage, it is not too much to consider these marriages institutionalized sexual abuse. Swedish researcher, Pernilla Ouis, herself a Muslim, has on behalf of “Red Barnet” produced a report of the so-called honour-related violence. The research took place in the Middle-East and Ouis’ conclusion is: “early marriage can be seen as sexual abuse, as the girls involved are very young.” The conclusions of the report were so damning she ran into censorship of it. ...

The ability to open up to a free and giving love and sexuality between man and woman is the foundation on which mental health rests. As long as women are not seen as equal in the Muslim culture, Muslim men and Muslim society will lag behind psychologically. On this basic human level, Islam and Muslim cultural psychology can be very unhealthy for human development. The conclusion is thus that the result of this psychology is that sexual assaults are worryingly widespread among Muslims. -- Nicolai Sennels

 

But today in Pakistan Muslims comprise a huge majority. So why do many Pakistanis spend more time celebrating Islamic history of regions outside India (especially Arabian), the ummah, and seem to show more concern in what is happening to their brethren in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kashmir, while drowning out the havoc being perpetrated by fellow Muslims inside their own country?

If we study the recent trend of reactionary thinking and of denials doing the rounds, we will notice it is largely the vocation of the urban middle-class. In an era of populist democracy (mostly associated with the urban working class and the rural peasantry), the middle-class feels itself to be a minority.

Thus, it can be suggested that this class too seems to be suffering from the kind of minority complex of the early 20th century. Perhaps that’s why, comparatively speaking, it is this class that is today enthusiastically responding to all the retro-Islamic paraphernalia, anti-democracy sentiment and empty, rhetorical muscle-flexing based on glorified fables and myths of “Muslim power” doing the rounds in drawing rooms — the popular media and cyber space today. -- Nadeem F. Paracha

 

A man approached the Maulana with his son and said that "some sorcerer has made his son ill mentally with the result that he behaves differently nowadays and puts us to troubles". The Maulana advised him to do some isthighfar like saying Subhanallah 100 times daily in the morning and evening. I asked him if any sorcerer can harm anybody without any contact just by reciting something or doing things, his hesitant reply was almost in the affirmative. This surprised me. I said if harming others is possible for the sorcerers, there will not be any direct attacks between one country and another and rulers like Bush and Saddam could have sought the help of sorcerers to finish or harm each other. The Maulana had no clear answer. Can anybody throw light on this vital subject and explain why people like me cannot reject the theory of sorcery as practiced now as absurd and fraud on the gullible people and nothing but exploitation to amass wealth? -- V.M. Khaleelur Rahman

It is time the Muslim intelligentsia asserted itself to give a liberal direction to its community.

Muslim migrants to other countries must accept the cultural ethos of their hosts. Those born and brought up in non-Muslim countries must underline their national identity more than their religious identity. This is the only recipe for inter-community harmony and mutual understanding. Preference for standing apart and resisting integration would be disastrous and may prove American author Samuel Huntington’s prediction of a clash of civilisations to be true. -- M Ratan

 

Changes are urgently needed to improve the state of the community. A committee under former Delhi high court chief justice Rajinder Sachar, which conducted independent India’s first exhaustive study on how Muslims fare in education and employment compared with others, established that the community was lagging behind in education and government jobs. The board can promote education in non-theological subjects such as science, social science, mathematics, English and Hindi without interfering in any manner with the theological content and evaluation of madrasa education. The scheme will also devise ways to promote education of Muslim girls to eradicate gender-based educational disparities. About 6,000 madrasas, 1,800 teachers and 700,000 children will be covered under the scheme for qualitative improvement, which would enable the children to attain standards prescribed by the national education system in formal subjects. ...

 “The hurry with which the government is trying to implement things, it appears that it wants to regulate Madrasas,” says Khalid Hamidi, professor of Arabic at Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi. “A Madrasa means Islamic school. Universities like Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia recognize Madrasa certificates. Then, what is the need for such modernization programmes?’’  Hamidi’s question relates partly to the concern that reforms may alter the “Islamic nature” of the madrasas, with some Muslims viewing the schools as an expression of identity rather than as seminaries where a young generation can be trained to meet the challenges of tomorrow. -- Pallavi Singh

 

But Zohair, now 19 and a student of mass media in Mumbai’s Burhani College, has a different perspective. “Babri masjid is not an issue with me,’’ he declares. “I want to get educated and excel in my field.’’ Zohair belongs to the post-Babri generation of Muslims who have undergone a remarkable change in mindset. This generation, reaping the opportunities of globalisation, genuinely believes that the past cannot hold it back. For its members it is career rather than an obsession with rebuilding the destroyed mosque that is paramount. The indications are everywhere. --Mohammed Wajihuddin

One of my Muslim friends’  mother, who had helped me learn about Islam, was very kind to me and opened up her home to me during that time.

That kind woman who taught me how to pray, invited me to join her family in their Eid celebration, and made sure I had somewhere to go when my family had made it clear they didn’t want me so long as I was Muslim, soon became my mother-in-law.

Although my family refuses to accept me as a Muslim, I am blessed to have a wonderful husband, in–laws and friends who have supported me and been there for me though the entire process. I am happy to be a Muslim. -- Diana Doss

The foundation of tolerance that was such a part of our lives was valued because it was often tested. In the early nineties, Karachi was torn and bleeding from ethnic violence between migrants from India and indigenous Sindhis over control of the city. Karachi was rocked with shootings that often killed hundreds in the span of a week. Curfews would be imposed in various parts of the city and schools like ours in the centre of the city would often be closed...

Women’s bodies, always a mirror of the politico-religious landscapes of a city have again become testaments of these changing climes. In years past, women in burqas existed side by side with women in brightly coloured shalwar kamiz but the latter are now harassed by the former. My mother, who has worn shalwar kamiz without covering her hair her whole life, was lectured by another woman at a park about how she ought to wear a hijab. A cousin was spat upon at a traffic light because she has short hair. Another friend was threatened with an acid attack for wearing capris in a crowded market. The onslaught has begun here; in a place where diversity of religious practice, if not ethnic diversity, was heretofore taken for granted. Women swathed in black are everywhere; and while it is difficult to tell whether their new garb is the product of intimidation or choice it is tangible presence pointing to the constriction of psychological and cultural vibrancy which was such a trademark of Karachi.

Mumbai’s ghost remains ever-present in this new Karachi; whether it is the sweet shops that sell delicacies from there, or the Bollywood blockbuster screened at one of the new cinemas or the many boutiques that promise clothes straight from Bombay. Last year’s catastrophic attack in Mumbai broke the heart of many children raised by its ghosts in Karachi; children who have envisioned Mumbai as a realisation of all they hope for in their own city. Perhaps also it made those who live in Mumbai also realise how the ravages of terror have harangued its estranged twin where a second generation is now growing up with terror and insecurity as a historical constant. There is much that Karachi and Mumbai have in common, megacities peopled by those fuelled as much by dreams and ambition and food and water; they both tread the tightrope between the harshness of survivalism and the tempering kindness of strangers in crowds. Yet as their political narratives fall farther apart and the generation that kept the ghost of Karachi alive fades into the past, their estrangement threatens to become a permanent break. It is this possibility; so proximately real, that represents the most terrible tragedy to befall both Karachi and Mumbai. -- Rafia Zakariaa

Ms Siddiqui dismissed the perception that the problem was more common among certain religious or cultural groups such as Pakistanis or Bangladeshis. She said it was equally widespread across the board, including white families.

“Yes, there is a media stereotyping that only women from certain communities are vulnerable but it is not true. We have as many Indian women come to us as from any other background,” she said arguing that it would be wrong to put the issue into culture or country–specific boxes...

A spokesperson of Imkaan, a national network of women’s support groups, accused the British media of “sensationalising” cases involving Asians.

“There is an attempt to create the impression that domestic violence is an issue to do with Asians’ cultural values. We don’t like terms like ‘honour killings’ while describing murders of Asian women. A killing is a killing and should be treated as such,” she said. -- Hasan Suroor

 

They are in no doubt that they are watching the takeover of their country and civilisation. Stories that attract little attention in the press loom large in the concerns of the BNP target voters. The priests in east London being beaten up by Muslim youths who shout racial and religious abuse. The councils that tear up the planning laws to accommodate the expansion of mosques or madrasas. These are the issues all but ignored by mainstream media and politicians. As a result, the debate is allowed to descend into a clash of extremists. Last March, for example, Islamists demonstrated against a parade in Luton of Royal Anglian Regiment soldiers returning from Afghanistan. The jihadis were protected by the police, while the only people arrested that day were locals protesting at this provocation. That event led in turn to a demonstration in Birmingham last August by the self-styled anti-Islamists of the so-called English Defence League (EDL) and other groups. -- Melanie Phillips

The Central madrasa Board Bill 2009 has provision for inclusion of one member each from Deoband, Barelvi and Ahl-e-Hadith schools, a scholar each from Shafai, Shia and Bohra sects and one scholar from madrasa system. Some MPs like Asaduddin Owaisi, Shafiq-ur-Rehman Burq and Ahmad Saeed Malihabadi opposed the move. Even Rajya Sabha member Ali Anwar commented, “What is the motive behind such a move?” Division of Muslims in sects and school of thoughts is a harsh reality and one must accept it. Muslims have become habitual to see dangers in every policy that is aimed at their amelioration. It is proving counter-productive for the community. Mr Sibal has already declared that there will be “no interference in theological education” and I see no reason to disbelieve his words. -- N Jamal Ansari

اس وقت کرۂ ارض پر تقریباً 1476233470 مسلمان آباد ہیں ۔ جن میں سے ایک ارب ایشیاء میں،400ملین افریقہ ، 44ملین یورپ میں اور 6ملین امریکہ میں رہتے ہیں ۔ دنیا میں ہر پانچواں انسان مسلمان ہے۔ دیگر مذاہب کے ماننے والوں کی تعداد کے ساتھ مسلمانوں کا تناسب کچھ ا س طرح سے  بنتا ہے کہ ہر ہندو کے مقابلے میں 2مسلمان اور ہر یہودی کے مقابلے میں ایک سو مسلمان ۔ تو پھر سوچنے کہ اس قدر کثیر قدر تعداد میں ہونے کے باوجود مسلمان اس قدر بے وقعت اور کمزور کیوں ہیں؟ .....

 

It should be delivered in Arabic: Whether Muslims understand what they are being told is immaterial

Several intellectuals gave their views on the subject of Using Friday Khutba (the speech delivered by the Imam before prayers) for spreading reformist ideas in the Muslim community. Some said that to be effective Khutba should be given in the language Muslims of that area understand. Commenting on these ideas, conservative Deobandi Aalim Maulana Nadeemul Wajidi explains that Khutba is an essential part of Friday prayers, actually one-half of the prayers, and like the prayers should only be delivered in Arabic,  the language of Heaven and angels, who come down to listen to the Khutba; whether Muslims understand that or not is immaterial, as Muslims in any case don’t understand who they are praying to or what they are praying for . He, however, concedes that lectures dealing with reformist and societal issues, which many Muslims consider the primary purpose of Friday prayers (which has to be for that reason a larger congregation than normal five-times-a-day prayers,) can be given in the local language before the Khutba. But there should not be a gap between the Arabic Khutba and the prayers, so the actual khutba should not even be translated in the local language.

 

MCCA chairman Dr. Akhtar Kalam outlined the objectives of the MCCA saying that the organization was too big to remain a cooperative and yet too small to become a bank. Kalam said that the move to turn MCCA into Australia’s first Islamic retail bank would be hastened as more and more consumers are now turning to the principles of Islamic Banking & Finance as an alternative to the current offers in the marketplace. Under Islamic law, charging interest on a loan is forbidden. The MCCA was founded in the early 1990s. It was initially funded by shareholders but now borrows from non-banking lenders. The key achievement of the MCCA being that it has helped hundreds of Muslim families in Australia buy a home. -- Danish Ahmad Khan

 

The global Muslim map

One in 4 people a practicing Muslim

India has third largest number of Muslims, after Indonesia, Pak

Mapping the Global Muslim Population

One in four people is Muslim, says study

One in four is Muslim, study says: BBC report

Muslim population in EU expected to swell

 

"I'm so old that I'm not really afraid anymore," he said. "The older you get, there's lesser and lesser at stake." Asked whether his depiction of the Prophet Muhammad originated from his personal politics or as part of his job as a cartoonist, Westergaard replied: "I am fighting for a just cause. And so you have a moral alibi, which is good, and then I have only worked according to our traditions in Denmark. "And, of course, there's been a lot of support from the man which I meet in the street, the ethnic Dane who pats my shoulder and says, 'Well done.' Then there's also been the Muslims who have threatened me and cursed me … but I think the most reactions I have received, they are very positive." -- Joshua Rhett Miller

 

Often, an Islamic Country may also suffer violence either within its own borders against its own people or violence imposed from outside. Another feature of Islamic countries is that the people are always walking around in fear of suffering embarrassment from breaching some religious rule or another. They always seem to suffer a guilty conscience. They are an unhappy people. And, on top of it all, the ‘Islamic Country’ suffers the fit that it is somehow still blessed by God and that its inhabitants, especially its religious leaders, will all go to heaven. A failed state is one where the clock has been turned back. Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran (all three being Islamic countries) are the clearest examples of this definition of a Failed State in the modern era. In the past, whole civilizations and empires have failed and had their clocks turned back. A very good example was the Islamic civilization. From being innovators and leaders in science, literature and almost all forms of knowledge the Muslims became superstitious, childish, unhygienic, violent and poor. -- Syed Akbar Ali

Increasing drug abuse has begun to claim a heavy toll among the youth

Psychiatrist Mushtaq Margoob observed that heroin abuse is the most common (73.61 per cent). With media reports that Jammu border is becoming the main transit point of international heroin smuggling, the nexus between drug-traffickers and drug-users becomes all the more apparent and a matter of grave concern. A comparative study of substance abuse in 1980-88 to 2002 by Margoob reveals a disturbing trend of drug abuse in Kashmir. Now the practice is moving beyond the male bastions and females are now part of the growing drug takers. With most drug users being in the productive age group of 18-35, the loss in terms of human potential is incalculable. -- Tanveen Kawoosa

 

Zakaat is meant for the poor and the needy. The money can also be used for supporting religious education, especially for poor students. So, a major share of it goes to the Madrasas. Generally, during Ramazaan more zakaat is paid, for two reasons: Generally, people calculate their year taking Ramazaan as the standard. But more important reason is that if any good deed is done during Ramazaan, it attracts more ‘sawaab’ (return from God) compared to other times. This is the reason that it is common to find the teachers/ volunteers/managers from different Madrasas moving around and collecting money during Ramazaan. They generally issue receipts to the donors. If a visit is paid to any mosque during Ramazaan at prayer time, it is certain that one or more such fund collectors will be there. During the Friday prayers in Ramazaan, several such fund collectors can be seen working at all prominent mosques. This is how most of the funds are raised by the Madrasas. There is one other source of fund raising. It comes in the form of ‘Fitra’. Every Muslim pays this amount before the namaaz of Eid (celebrated immediately after Ramazaan). -- M. A. Haque

The story of one of the many British Muslim girls who are oppressed and married off against their will.  Hannah Shah had been raped by her father and faced a forced marriage. She fled, became a Christian and now fears for her life, as apostasy is punishable by death in radical Islam.

It’s fair to say that Hannah Shah is an evangelical Christian, who clearly feels a duty to spread her new faith to Muslims– something with which the Church of England’s eternally emollient establishment is very uncomfortable and the government even more so. She points out that even within this notionally Christian country, people are “persecuted” for evangelism of even the mildest sort. She cites the recent cases of the nurse who was suspended for offering to pray for a patient and the foster parents who were struck off after a Muslim girl in their care converted to Christianity. “Such people – I’m not talking about apostates like me – have been persecuted or ostracised in this country simply because they want to share their faith with others. People call this political correctness but I actually think it is based on a fear of Muslims, what they might do if provoked.” -- Dominic Lawson

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