Books and Documents

Islamic Society

'Mullahs spoiled my life'
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

Amineh [not real name] divorced her husband, just two months after marriage, as she found him to be drug addict. She said when she went to the Sharia judge for a court order allowing her to divorce her husband, the judge in usual Islamic dress, proposed her to spend few nights with him for such order. She said: "I had to virtually turn into a concubine of the judge for several weeks, till he settled my divorce issue. I even became pregnant, while the judge managed for abortion in a government hospital, secretly, just by using his official status accorded by Mullahs in Iran."

Amineh appealed to Iranian women in the world, who might be reading this interview to do anything possible in ending the devil regime of Mullahs. She said: "If you can do this, I will kiss your feet and hand." -- Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

Saturday will mark the 30th death anniversary of Mohammed Rafi, India’s singing legend who was loved beyond the borders of South Asia. Though he was paired with many playback singers over a career spanning four decades, his more memorable songs were rendered with the iconic female vocalist, Lata Mangeshkar. Rafi was a Punjabi Muslim, Lata a Maharashtrian Hindu. Their love songs still inspire millions. -- Jawed Naqvi


It would be obvious to proclaim that no place is safe from the brutality of terrorism in Pakistan. There are no safe havens here where the barbarians can’t and won’t strike. However, over the last couple of years, what was once the most troubled city has remained nervously quiet (if not entirely peaceful).

As suicide bombers go off with audacious frequency right across Khyber Pakhtun-khwa, Punjab and Islamabad, comparatively speaking Karachi has remained largely peaceful, save politically motivated targeted killings. Karachi has always been known as the only truly cosmopolitan city in the country with strong liberal and pluralistic overtones. But ironically, till 1984, it was also the only major city where fundamentalist political/ religious groups such as the JI and the JUP enjoyed their finest electoral hours...

Though still one of the most complex and diverse cosmopolitan entities, Karachi’s relatively peaceful decorum in the face of the havoc being perpetrated by extremists elsewhere is due to some admiring compromises that the people and politicians of this city have struck in the last few years. A delicate but promising compromise was struck between the secular political expressions of Karachi’s mohajir, Punjabi, Pakhtun, Baloch and Sindhi populations, namely the MQM, the ANP, and the PPP. - Nadeem F Paracha


All kinds of target killers seem to have landed in this country of pious people. You name them and there they are holding a gun in their hands and ready to take a shot at the target any time they wish. Every location in the country has different brands of target killers with different aims and objectives. At domestic level, we have target killers that mostly target women in the name of honour and feel pride in successfully accomplishing their tasks. At city level, we have target killers hunting the people belonging to certain ethnic, political, and sectarian communities. -- Mohammad Nafees


Hashem al-Madani made it possible for some southern Lebanese to do what film stars usually do in front of the camera: kiss. As this was more socially acceptable with a partner of the same sex (some people preferred this anyway), it resulted in a whole series of photographs of women – or men – homing in on each other, nose to nose... It is obvious that from the very beginning of photography, the Arab bourgeoisie worked to establish codes of its own: amorphous, oriented sometimes towards a European viewpoint, sometimes against it – but always self-aware. -- Mona Sarkis


For Pakistanis with a feudal or tribal mindset, who believe power can be retained by maintaining the status quo and controlling people through archaic rules, an education that teaches questioning is irrelevant. Education is a mere ritual for their scions as they have seldom, if ever, used their education to bring the benefits of progressive thinking to their people and have almost never challenged their own false sense of entitlement. While they pay lip service to human rights at international forums, at home they demand unquestioning servility from their oppressed tribesmen.

Politicians from tribal or feudal backgrounds have repeatedly shown with their actions, and even voiced, their support for parallel justice systems like the jirgas which continue to pass verdicts despite being outlawed in Sindh and elsewhere. This system is so ‘rigged’ against the poor that it has yet to give a verdict condemning powerful land-grabbers, rapists and murderers. So to expect such persons to endorse a value system based on the principles of equality, justice and rule of law would be a tall order. When education is in conflict with a retrogressive world view, how can a degree be more than a piece of paper that, if needed, can perhaps be bought to further feudal goals in the corridors of power. ...

The degree debacle in parliament has shocked us by reminding the nation of Pakistan’s rotting public examination system and high threshold of tolerance for criminal behaviour. In today’s examination centres invigilators and examiners are terrorised with weapons and muscle, and hard-working and honest students are short-changed by influential cheats. Some parents are found to be a party to this fraud as was shown on a TV news report of a raid on Karachi examination centres during matriculation exams. A media scandal broke loose when a politician was caught in Rawalpindi for sending his cousin to replace him in the examination hall. Such widespread malpractices have spawned a cottage industry of fake degrees, surrogate candidates and cheating facilitators.-- Niilofur Farrukh

Indian Muppies join the party
Mohammed Wajihuddin

After yuppies and puppies come the Muppies or Muslim upwardly mobile professionals who appear to be increasingly on the high road to white collar jobs and comfortable lives and demonstrate a desire to leave the ghetto real and metaphorical of the past behind.
Just weeks after minority affairs minister Salman Khurshid said that minority recruitment to public sector jobs has risen from 6.9% in 2007 to 9.24% in 2009, TOI correspondents from across the country reveal that the Muppie really does exist in India today. Across the country, large numbers of young Muslims are realizing their dreams through professional education. And as we report from Hyderabad, their families too are able to realize delayed, if cherished dreams of improved lifestyles through their childrens achievement.
The Muppie is breaking the stereotype. In just three years, the minorities share of government jobs went up 24%.
The Muppie looks to be here to stay...Read on.

We find the violent and coercive ways of the Taliban distasteful, but want the law to chop heads and hands, and order men and women (preferably the latter) to be stoned to death. Of course, we have no clue as to who decides who is an adulterer or an apostate, or what Islamic school of thought (among the many present in this country) to implement while enforcing these pleasant punishments.

According to the said survey 89 per cent Pakistanis say they think of themselves first as Pakistanis, rather than as members of their ethnic groups; yet the country is always standing on the edge of ethnic, sectarian and inter-sectarian strife. We like to call ourselves moderate Muslims, yet our thinking is clouded by fantasies of a violent religious order emerging from artificially induced memories of some glorious mythical past of a Utopia. -- Nadeem F Paracha

One of the more insidious doings of the 18th Amendment has been to seal off the office of prime minister to non-Muslims by declaring that the post will be held by a Muslim. The presidency has, since 1956, already been reserved for Muslims alone. The original justification given for this was that the post was a symbolic one. While in the kind of state we live in today, there was little practical possibility of someone from a minority religious community moving into the office of prime minister, the existence of the theoretical possibility was important. Indeed it is ironic that this opening has been closed just as real authority has been shifted to the prime minister. It is also ironic that a measure aimed at strengthening democracy should reserve the most important political office in the land for a specific community. The exclusion of all other citizens is, after all, most blatantly undemocratic. -- Kamila Hyat

The many prophets sent by God to guide humankind, the last of who was the Prophet Muhammad, did not make regime change or the capture of political power their aim. Rather, their primary focus was the reform of individuals, who, when suitably reformed, could form a society inspired to follow God’s teachings. Only then could a government that would rule according to the teachings of Islam. The Prophet Muhammad is said to have declared, ‘Those who rule over you will be just as you are’ (kama ta kununa kazalika yoammaru aleikum). In other words, people get the government or rulers they deserve, because the representatives of people emerge from and are chosen from among them. This clearly indicates that it is only through gradual and sustained reform at the level of individuals that society, and, then, the system of governance can be reformed. This is the natural system of bringing about social transformation. -- Maulana Waris Mazhari

So, this essay is largely to disseminate information about the construction industry mafia that ruthlessly and relentlessly exploits South Asian workers, whose labour has created all those skyscrapers, including the tallest in the world, the Burj Dubai, penthouses, luxury apartments, 7-star hotels, golf courses and what not. Now, of course, Dubai has been badly hit by the global financial crisis but it only magnifies the utter disregard that the Arab sheikhs have for all the millions of workers who live in their kingdoms as virtual slaves.

The enslavement process begins in South Asia at the time of recruitment. Impoverished families somehow manage to raise money to send a young man to Dubai — it could be any other country in that region as well. It involves selling whatever land or other possessions they have, borrowing from relatives and so on. The agent charges an exorbitant sum for arranging the passport and visa. Upon arrival in Dubai, the worker’s passport is confiscated and he is sent to a camp where he lives with thousands of other workers. The documentary showed that in a small dirty room some eight to nine people ‘live’; for some 45 people there are one or two latrines, which are filthy and nauseating. Once inside the camp the new arrival becomes practically a slave, working 12 hours a day, six days a week. The wage that is paid is one-half or one-third of what was promised. The construction firms that own the labour camps strictly regulate who comes in and who goes out. In short, the South Asian workers live in camps that are similar to a POW camp where soldiers of a defeated army are kept. -- Ishtiaq Ahmed

Photo: Indian workers in Dubai

The Prophet invited non-Muslims to his home and accepted their invitations to visit their homes. He would visit non-Muslims when they were ill to inquire about their health, join their funerals, and exchange gifts with them. When the notorious hypocrite Abdullah Ibn Ubay died, the Prophet went for his funeral. When his body had been laid in his grave, he placed his own shirt on it. According to Jabir Ibn Abdullah, the narrator of this report, the Prophet did so because Abdullah Ibn Ubay had provided the shroud for the Prophet’s uncle Abbas when he died in the battle of Uhd. Thus, the Prophet repaid Abdullah Ibn Ubay for this deed. This action clearly suggests that we must repay goodness with goodness, even if it relates to someone who is an inveterate foe, whether Muslim or non-Muslim. -- Maulana Waris Mazhari

While many Islamic countries claim to have been victimized by the "war on terror", it is interesting to note that since September 11, 2001, three of the six individual Nobel peace laureates have been Muslims. Their area of recognition has spanned from human rights activism (Shirin Ebadi, 2003) to nuclear vigilance (Muhammad El Baradei, 2005) to micro-credit entrepreneurship (Muhammad Yunus, 2006).

What is perhaps even more astonishing is that in the 108-year history of the Nobel peace prize there are only two other Muslims who have been so honored. Anwar Saadat (1978) and Yassir Arafat shared the prize with Israeli leaders for highly variable and controversial contributions to building peace in the Middle East.

Out of more than five hundred Nobel laureates in the sciences, only two have been of Muslim lineage. Pakistan can claim one of them: Abdus Salam, who shared the prize in physics in 1979, and memorably wore a shervani and turban to the award ceremony in Sweden. However, as a member of the Ahmadiya community, he was regrettably spurned at home as a non-Muslim and died in 1996 without fully being able to contribute to science education in Pakistan, despite his noblest intentions. Dr. Ahmed Zewail, an Egyptian-American chemist based at the California Institute of Technology received the prize for chemistry in 1999 and is the Muslim world's sole Nobel science star. He is clearly in high demand for this singular status and has also been appointed by President Obama as one of his "science envoys." -- Saleem H Ali


The by-product of the judiciary's increasing power will be plenty more cases such as the Facebook ruling, where the court system tests its limits and tries to eke out further control. But troublingly, the amendment removes from the constitution a clause that mandated regular intraparty elections, and it does nothing to address the power of party heads to remove rogue legislators. This means that Sharif -- who remains head of the PML but has been barred from holding elected office because of criminal charges against him (until the 18th Amendment changed this rule in order to get the PML vote) -- could dismiss parliamentarians of his party who do not vote as he directs on a range of issues. Although Zardari has been divested of much of his official power, he and his 22-year-old son, Bilawal Bhutto, remain co-chairmen of the PPP. It is unlikely that Gillani, now technically the most powerful PPP member in parliament, will take up legislative matters that Zardari doesn't approve. Nor will the PML cross Sharif. Without internal democracy, the major parties will remain conduits for personal power and new ideas will be crowded out. Progress on Pakistan's most pressing problems will remain stalled, as Zardari and Sharif continue to clash. Unfortunately, this sets the government up for a collapse and military similar to those of 1977 and 1999. -- Kathryn Allawala


Hindu-Muslim dialogue involves efforts at both the intellectual as well as practical levels. But, all these efforts can make no headway without sincerity of purpose. If these efforts are made simply for political gain or fame they can produce no positive results. Parties to the dialogue must be conscious of the fact that they need each other. They must realize that they can and, indeed, must, learn from each other. They must know that the progress of our common homeland, and, therefore, of each and every community that inhabits it, is impossible without Hindu-Muslim cooperation. For meaningful dialogue between Muslims and Hindus, both must consider themselves not as opponents but as friends, or at least as potential friends. -- Maulana Waris Mazhari

Mosque is organised like a church as access to a mosque is through membership - an idea clearly borrowed, out of economic consideration, from the Norwegian State-Church relationship. Moreover, in Norway a mosque is organised like a church. For example, access to a mosque is through membership-an idea clearly borrowed, out of economic consideration, from the Norwegian State-Church relationship. The Norwegian state finances every registered church and mosque at the rate of per head per member. Mosque-membership is a completely alien idea to Pakistan where mosque is a house of God that belongs to all Muslims. Anyone, any time can come to the mosque to pray or stay overnight. A traveller who cannot afford a hotel can stay at mosque and is served food by the community (in towns, this practice is almost disappearing but on countryside, it goes on). In Pakistan most of the mosques have no state funding. In Norway, mosques compete with each other to increase their membership in order to have an increased financial support by the state. -- Farhat Taj

The sudden appearance of Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) alleged footprint in the sleepy village of Dharabi near Chakwal has sent a wave of religious excitement across Pakistan. At a three-hour drive from Islamabad, Dharabi is now attracting tens of thousands of visitors from Swat to Karachi. They seek blessings, spiritual enlightenment, miracle-cures, and relief from life’s other stresses. A road that is sparsely traveled in normal times is now clogged with traffic, vendors of food and drink are having a field day, new businesses selling pictures and holy paraphernalia have sprouted, and a permanent shrine is under construction. The village could not have hoped for better. -- Perwez Hoodbhoy

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

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  • موجودہ دور میں بیشتر مسائل ایسے ہیں جنہیں اصول فقہ کی معروف بحث نھی عن التصرفات الشرعیہ کے ضمن میں کرنے کی ضرورت ہے تاکہ ...
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    ( By Salim Javed )
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    ( By hats off! )
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