Books and Documents

Spiritual Meditations

I recently came across an initiative by Arun Sachdev, a retired mediaperson, christened “Love Commandos”, which is an oxymoron really. For love is always associated with positive emotions and the dictionary meaning of commandos is, “group of soldiers who are trained to make quick attacks in enemy areas”. “Love Commandos” began actually as a response to “honour killing” — another oxymoron there — (can there be honour in killing?), which has become a notorious practice, mainly in Haryana but also in parts of Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Mr Sachdev thought that such a practice, which thrives on a false sense of pride, needs to be responded to by providing the hunted down couple with love and shelter. It is an abundantly positive and creative way of countering a rather depressing reality. -- Father Dominic Emmanuel


A violent attack on Sufis for their beliefs is not a new thing. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk banned all Sufi orders in 1925, and their spiritual centres were taken over by the Turkish state. In North Africa in the 12th century, the Maliki Almoravid dynasty actively denounced Sufis and Sufism. The practice of Sufism is characterised by its disciples’ sole aim: to become closer to God. They achieve this through dhikr, the remembrance of God, and asceticism, through being “in the world but not of it”. Sufis are opposed to violence, extremism and jihad. They are seen as the world’s symbols of Islamic tolerance and humanism: nondogmatic, flexible and nonviolent. Many Muslims in Pakistan consider themselves to be Sufis, and while the South Asian brand of Sufism is tied to our own particular culture, it has links to Sufi orders all over the world, which have thrived despite violence and discrimination. -- Bina Shah

The Swami’s confession has provoked a sense of triumph among Muslims and secularists, who had all along suspected that Hindutva groups were responsible for the series of blasts outside mosques that started in Maharashtra in 2003. But while the campaign now on, to get the Muslim boys arrested for these blasts out on bail is necessary, shouldn’t we also appreciate the act that made their release a possibility? Those fighting against injustice to the minorities must need be concerned with that cliché called “communal harmony”. Swami Aseemanand’s act goes beyond harmony: as Kaleem, the prisoner who the Swami says prompted him to confess, told this reporter, in his Hyderabadi dialect: “Bahoot bada kaam hai — confess karna.’’ The interaction between Kaleem and the Swami is truly the stuff legends are made of. The young man’s behaviour is no less inspiring than the Swami’s. Tortured and imprisoned for 18 months for a crime he hadn’t committed; his family hounded into moving house six times; losing his coveted medical seat (he was fourth in the merit list); finally being acquitted, and then re- arrested in another case… after all this, to be kind to the man responsible for the very crime for which he had suffered, is hard to understand. -- Jyoti Punwani


The mystic and philosopher Shaykh Muhyiddin Ibn al Arabi is amongst my favourite early Sufis. Born in Murcia, Moorish Spain in 1165, he came to be called Shaykh ul Akbar, the great master. One of the most prolific writers in Islamic history, Ibn al Arabi’s writings immensely impacted Muslim communities throughout the world. He remains a refreshing voice that throws light on the human condition in any time and any place. Rooted in Islamic sciences, his work is universal, accepting that each person has a unique path to the Truth.The 19-year-old Ibn al Arabi met the renowned philosopher Ibn Rushd (d. 1198) whom the West knows as Averroes. The philosopher asked the young mystic, “Do the fruits of mystic illumination agree with philosophical speculation?” Ibn al Arabi replied, “Yes and no. Between the yes and no, the spirits take their flight beyond the matter”. --Sadia Dehlvi

Numbers play a crucial role in a man’s life. The crucial events of Salman Taseer’s life prove this theory. The number that played a very critical role in deciding the turn of events in his life is 9.

The life and death of the slain Punjab governor Salman Taseer was governed by this number. He was born on May 31, 1944. If we add the digits of his date of birth we get 9…

One important aspect of the number 9 people is that they are found to make great enemies, to cause strife and opposition in the position they are and are often wounded or killed either in warfare or in the battle of life. -- Sohail Arshad

Silence is broken by needs, with the act of asking, with the urge of wanting...

Betalab vo de raha hai chup raho

kuchh kaha to baat khaali jayegi

(Without asking, you are being given,

if you ask, your words may go blank)

...so mumbled a Sufi faqir calligrapher, who was challenged by his speech.

The Indian-Eastern wisdom was a subtle way of achieving the impossible without visible effort. It was a way of making the unimaginable happen. Many a times this phenomenon could not be explained so it was called a “miracle”.

Bhika baat agham ki, kahan sunan ki nahi

Jo jaane so kahe nahi, jo kahe so jaane nahi

(Bhika, the truth is, not said or heard. Those who know, do not say, and those who say, know not...)

The art of silence is the act of not asking. It is the state of knowing. A state of Ching-jing Wu-wei, sitting and doing nothing. It is the acuteness of perception without the bitterness of not achieving it in a given time scale---- Muzaffar Ali

Ever since I was young there has been a halo around the name of Swami Vivekananda, as there was around his master's, Sri Ramakrishna. Recognition outside India meant a lot a hundred years ago; it was an enviable kind of validation. But to be candid, none of this reverence affected my life. Vedanta was just an arcane term, and the flight of modern Indians was toward science, upward social mobility and personal freedom. I imagine that anyone who took the step of joining the Indian Diaspora followed the same wave that carried me to America.

It was years before I realized what I'd run away from, and now Vedanta means a lot to me. It is the map to higher consciousness, never surpassed by later history yet frequently validated in fresh, new ways. Vivekananda did that a century ago. We honour his memory for it, but that's incidental, for the spiritual path implies action, not salute to memory. Vedanta is either here and now or it is nowhere.

Which means that without new life Vivekananda's legacy will be inert. The only viable memorial is to put his model of spirituality into practice. I'm avoiding the phrase "put his ideas into practice," because Vedanta, once reduced to ideas, is equally lifeless. So what would Vivekananda ask us to do today, here and now? --- Deepak Chopra

On the 28th of September falls the 706th Urs, death anniversary of Hazrat Amir Khusrau, who lies buried inside the compound of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s dargah. Like most devotees, I follow the tradition of first offering prayers at Khusrau’s tomb before seeking blessings from his Master. I respect Khusrau’s genius, adore his music, love his poetry and seek his intercession to invoke the blessings of Hazrat Nizamuddin. In these tumultuous times, Khusrau’s legacy signifying India’s composite heritage and culture has become more relevant than ever. -- Sadia Dehlvi

The fact of the matter is that each and everything in this world belongs to Almighty Allah. He is the real owner of all. As such, man’s life and riches, which are part of this world, also belongs to Him, because it is He who created them and it is He who has assigned them to each man for his use. Looking at the problem from this angle, the question of any sale or purchase does not arise at all. Almighty God is the real owner, there is no question of His purchasing what is already His. Man is not their real owner; he has no title. But there is one thing that has been conferred on man, and which now belongs fully to him, and that is his free will, the freedom of choice of following or not following the path of Almighty Allah. -- Khwaja Mohammed Zubair


The Vedas are described as apaurusheya, that is, written by no man. They were transmitted down from one generation to the next without anyone having a clue as to who wrote them. This question of authorship of the Vedas is linked with another, perhaps more tractable, question: When were they written? From the study of the contents, the language and allusions to events, Western scholars arrived at the figure of around 3.5 to four thousand years ago as the age of Vedic literature. Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, known to most Indians for his leadership of the Indian national movement for Independence, before the arrival on the scene of Mahatma Gandhi, had a multifaceted personality. He was well versed in mathematics, had written a learned commentary of the Bhagavad Gita called the Geetarahasya, had a philosophical bent and took great interest in social issues besides running a national newspaper, Kesari, of which he was also the editor. Last, but not the least, he possessed basic knowledge of astronomy which he put to use in a highly original fashion to decide the antiquity of the Vedas. -- Jayant V. Narlikar

Sanghasena — who was born amid poverty at Tingmosgang — a remote village in Ladakh — knew for sure that education could transform the lives of people. He realised that poor people needed shelter, food, clothing and medicines not religious philosophy. Moreover, religion also preaches welfare and happiness of people and he would be following the religious tenets if he could ensure good education for children in Ladakh — especially the girls. In 1986, he set up the Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre in Leh and six years later, he laid the foundation stone at Choglamsar for setting up Devachan — a school to provide free education to children. -- BHIKKU Sanghasena


Ever since Jesus was born 2,000 years ago, the story of his birth has been narrated over and over again, not just in words but also through poetry, paintings, songs, radio dramas, classical dance forms, small and big films and through many other art forms. The real narration of his birth though, as portrayed in the Gospel of St. Luke, is rather simple as: “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was the governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. -- Father Dominic Emmanuel

The festive season of Christmas provides an opportunity to reflect on Jesus and the centrality of Love in Divine philosophies. Although the Muslim and Christian narratives somewhat differ, one cannot be a Muslim unless they believe in Maryam, Virgin Mary, and Isa Ruh Allah, Jesus, an important prophet who is the Spirit of Allah, that is, pure compassion and mercy...

Muslims believe that Jesus did not die on the Cross, but was raised to the Heavens. However, both Islam and Christianity believe that Christ will return to the earth to destroy the Antichrist who shall bring tyranny and war, selling lust, greed, gluttony and other sins. Both Jesus and Mary have significant roles in Sufi thought, finding frequent mention in mystic verse. -- Sadia Dehlvi

The traditional ends or ideals of life are dharma, artha, kama and moksha, understood as moral order, material fulfilment, emotional gratification and spiritual freedom. The Indian psyche has been shaped by these time-honoured principles of organising ones life and they have given us a certain direction and guidance, underpinning our life, both sacred and secular. While dharma is what sustains all our activities and moksha is the ultimate state of being, artha and kama are driven by our innate nature and largely define our material life. Our material and emotional pursuits are products of our intrinsic psyche and mental attributes. However, there is one pursuit that is worthy of being included as a purushartha or ideal in its own right, or at the very least woven as a subtext to artha and kama, and that is seeking the beautiful and making it a part of ones life, or realising saundarya inwardly and subjectively. -- Harsha V Dehejia


Meditation brings self-realisation. A tale from Chandogya Upanishad is relevant here. Sage Aruni conveyed to his son Svetketu what this realisation is. He asked his son to drop a pinch of salt in a bowl of water. Then he asked him to take the salt out. Svetketu said, he couldn’t. Aruni smiled and said, “Taste this water”. Svetketu complied. Aruni then said, “Though the salt is now invisible and intangible, yet it has permeated the water with its essence. So too, you do not perceive the reality that is within you as a subtle essence. That essence is the atman and you are that”. -- J.S. Neki

A tree withstands the vagaries of nature — the storms, the downpours and the floods — to protect the flora, the fauna and the soil alike. A tree provides for those around it — the animals, the birds and the insects in the form of food and shelter, as a nurturer as well as a healer. A tree purifies the air around it, a tree binds the soil together, a tree participates in causing the rains, a tree decomposes to enrich the earth — a tree befriends the environment. -- Yogi Ashwini


We are in the beginning of Muharram, the first month of the lunar Muslim Hijrah calendar. According to authentic prophetic traditions, Muharram is one of the four sanctified months mentioned in the Quran, the others believed to be Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Rajab. Muharram literally means, “one that is sacred”. This does not mean that other months have no sanctity, because the month of Ramzan is admittedly the most sanctified month in the year. However, these four months were specifically termed as sacred months. -- Sadia Dehlvi


A dimension is our level of existence at any given point of time. The state that we humans exist in is called the bhulok. Dimensions below the bhulok are called tals; sutal, rasatal, patal are the levels of existence below the bhulok, while above the bhulok exist the bhuvah, svah, maha, janah, tapah and satyalok, each lok having layers of existence to it. Each lok has attributes to it that create sub-dimensions within that. At our level too, i.e. at the level of the humans in the bhulok, we have so many different types of people; workers, professionals, businessmen, CEOs. Each is different from the other in characteristics and the experiences that they live through. -- Yogi Ashwini


Pandu was the rightful and noble monarch of Bharata, the bodily kingdom. Pand in Sanskrit means white or pure, referring to the faculty of discriminating between right and wrong, which humans inherently possess. If man lives as per this discriminating power he will live life in such a way that slowly but surely, the soul's body-consciousness ascends to spirit-consciousness and thus one attains independence from false providers of happiness, namely, the five senses.

As the story goes, Pandu has five sons, three from his wife Kunti -- representing the power of dispassion-- and two from Madri, the power of persisting in dispassion.

The five brothers unwittingly lose their kingdom in a game of dice, deceitfully loaded by Duryodhana (material desire) against them. The bodily kingdom comes to be ruled by the blind king Dhritarashtra who represents our own sense-infatuated and hence "blind" mind. -- Anand M Kulkarni


Krishna says in the Gita: The one whose mind and senses are under his control, meaning, who is disciplined, is a happy person.

He then talks about a person who is undisciplined and disintegrated. Such a person has no peace. And where is happiness for a restless man? These two things cannot go together. He is one whose mind, intellect and sense organs are not integrated with each other. Our intellect is convinced of something great, but our mind has different cravings. The senses are extrovert and this conflict is constantly going on in our life between what we know and what we do. In this world, there is sorrow, not because we lack knowledge, but because we do not put it into practice. This is disintegration. -- Swami Tejyomananda

Guru Nanak reminds us that each one of them is an embodiment of the divine light, which He again explains with reference to Nature, "The drop of water is in the sea,/ And the sea is in the drop of water, who shall solve the riddle?" Man is, therefore, a part of Nature and God, his goal being to merge in Him. A journey from being a manmukh or ego-centric person to a gurmukh or God-oriented one liberates you from ahankara or ego and all suffering. -- Kulbir Kaur

I stepped into Dhaka Central Jail on 25th of Baisakh, 1417. I reached the main gate of the jail after taking the road from Chankharpool. During the 1970 elections, I often used to visit this part of town, going from house to house, campaigning on father’s behalf. In 1954, our family had moved to Dhaka and from that year onwards we used to take this route regularly. I would come to visit father in jail along with Kamal and little Jamal. I would hold on to my mother’s hand as we entered the prison. We were allowed to visit him twice a month. This wasn’t the first time that father had been jailed. In 1948 he was incarcerated on quite a few occasions. From 1948 to 1952 he had to spend three whole years in prison without a break. Later, he would be put behind bars again in 1958, 1962, 1964, 1966, and 1971. -- Sheikh Hasina


We are told that homosexuality is the upcoming thing in man’s world. So my mind does wander to, ‘what kind of poetry this homosexuality can breed?’ Is the world of poetry also destined to be equally receding necessitating the clubbing of it with man’s destiny? And how do I explain to the Modern Ideologue that for some men, the ‘touch’ of a man is revolting and instead of being a healing-touch it would amount to being a death-dealing touch.  I would prefer, in that case, to move back to my receding world, if that is what ‘man’ has willed for himself.--Manzoorul Haque

Have people lost faith in people? Have people become mere products? Has modern consumerism made human beings respond to other humans only through media... react to brands, insensitive to intentions?  Has media increased the generation gap that even a decade may seem like two generations or more? While we pay institutions more than we can save in our lifetime to educate our children, it is likely that our cherished values will be conspicuous by their absence. -- Muzaffar Ali

Most people who read the Arabic of the Qur’an read it only by rote. They make the (nearly) right sounds (give or take pronunciations and accents) but they don’t understand a single thing they say, except maybe occasional repeating of the word ‘Allah.’ For example, my teacher has a Qur’an-reading evening when members of the community will recite at the same time in low voices from each of the 30 parts until in one session (lasting less than an hour) the entire Qur’an is read. The sound is like Qur’an schools with kids (and some adults) learning to memorize the entire text and doing so by practicing out loud, each at different places. It is not a cacophony of sound as you might expect. There is still melodious rhythm and flow even in this. The sound of the Qur’an is soothing. -- Amina Wadud

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  • Dear Sultan Shahin Sahib, Well said. ‘Barelvi’ Sufi Sunni Muslims do not allow their followers to sit in company of Wahhabis and Deobandis and neither ...
    ( By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي )
  • Excellent article! Harsh Mander, the pro-Muslim humdard, and Ramchandra Guha, the secularist....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Quite a poignant discourse! From education to social milieu, contextual rather than other matters...
    ( By Meera )
  • Heart and soul is resting in body,what to do? Ummat?'
    ( By Ramsi Nh Thakur )
  • Anybody who does not believe in Islam will burn in hell fire. This is the core message of Islam. All great people of the world ...
    ( By Prince Koul )
  • محترم عزیز غلام رسول دہلوی صاحب حفظک اللہ آپ کا کام قابل ستائش ہے۔مجھے خبر ملی ہے کہ اسی مضمون کے اوپر آپ کو دھمکیاں ...
    ( By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي )
  • محترم غلام رسول دہلوی صاحب، پوری دنیا بھر میں اکثر لوگوں کو پتہ ہی نہیں کہ وہابی عقائد کے متبعین آخر کیوں صوفی سنی مسلمانوں ...
    ( By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي )
  • محترم غلام رسول دہلوی صاحب، پوری دنیا بھر میں اکثر لوگوں کو پتہ ہی نہیں کہ وہابی عقائد کے متبعین آخر کیوں صوفی سنی مسلمانوں ...
    ( By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي )
  • A thoughtful article on the intrusive roles of Turkish government bureaucracies....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • It is your view. But that doesn't mean it is true. You are consoling yourself. Get out of comfort zone. It is not middle age ...
    ( By Bilhan Kaul )
  • Your religious book is written by people but in Muslim. Quran is Almighty words send through Angle and words copied on pages and made in ...
    ( By Abu Basim Khan )
  • @Khan But who has written godly books. People. So it is not fault of people but religion. Your kind of lozic is simple. Which you ...
    ( By Bilhan Kaul )
  • What is true Islam I explained. Not depend on practice. In religious book written theft,lies etc are prohibited and crime ....
    ( By Abu Basim Khan )
  • Are you preaching Khan sahib. That Islam has no place for this or that. Your imagination is out of tune with reality. Wishes are not ...
    ( By Bilhan Kaul )
  • Echo the views of Jayaram, who has well nailed the ghettoistic mindset of radicalised Muslims who abhor everything progressive in ....
    ( By Akhtar Imam )
  • @Jayaram Shriyan give more respect to lakhs of women abandoned by majority community without divorce. give respect and rehabilitate ....
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  • @ Jayaram Shriyan u read Quran and Hadith ie Prophet saying.Muslims women have full liberty and more power compare to Men.Thats why ....
    ( By Abu Basim Khan )
  • My Muslim brethren, all that you have to do is give more freedom of choice to your mothers and sisters within the ....
    ( By Jayaram Shriyan )
  • Islam has no place for sectarianism or insurgency. It should, infact, be responsibility of the religious leaders ....
    ( By Abu Basim Khan )
  • Very informative. God bless you'
    ( By Syed Ali Shahid Rizvi )
  • Kraipak Author knows "0" about what sufism actually is. Sufi is a big ....
    ( By Mehraj Ul Haq )
  • No one can dare to cleanse the theology of Islam.'
    ( By Behare Lal Dhar )
  • Egoist party'
    ( By Rama Prakash Mishra )
  • U P OJHA My comment isn't related to you, but the Muslims only.'
    ( By Mas'ud Al-Hyderi )
  • @Mas'ud Al-Hyderi If islam quits the philosophy of cutting throats of other religions, world become Islamic.....
    ( By U.p. Ojha )
  • رسول اللہ ﷺ نے فرمایا، ’’اپنی امت کیلئے واحد چیز جس کا مجھے خوف ہے وہ گمراہ رہنما ہیں (جو لوگوں کو گمراہی کی طرف ...
    ( By Mas'ud Al-Hyderi )
  • How to go with terrorism in the name of Islam? This is all political fabricated n the results of our weaknesses n lack of unity ...
    ( By Nizam Elahi )
  • You need to listen to scholars like sheikh Muhammad Al yaqoubi, Sheik yahya Al Ninouvi, and Sheikh Hamza Yousuf.... Nothing more to say....
    ( By Saddam Patel )
  • Only radical thought needs Sufi ( moderate) . Moderate d open thought needs no Sufism .'
    ( By Arun Sharma )
  • The sufi word, actually means the inner felling of soul, and follow only the right path of prophet S. A. W, and adopting the methods ...
    ( By Muzamil Gul )
  • Kuldeep Madaan ji, One thing you have said well but if you don’t use the right method while understanding the Quran, Sunnah or sira—the terms ...
    ( By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي )
  • nothing to do with islam folks. nothing to see here. keep that line moving.'
    ( By hats off! )
  • The link of Tahirul Qadri’s speech on wahdatul wujud and wahdatush shuhud....
    ( By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي )
  • Dear Sultan Shahin sahib, Since you have quoted Dr. Tahirul Qadri in your article, please listen to his speech on the idea of Wahdatul wujud ...
    ( By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي )
  • Prof. Naim is right about what the facts are. One must also juxtapose...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • It does not take much scholarship to see that the article is written with a particular objective in mind. The data is provided....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Of course women should make their own decisions regarding what....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Guha is right. The difference between Guha and Mander is that the former is secular and the latter is pro-Muslim. We ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • I am completely in tune with Mr. Ghulam Mohiyuddin that no religion should claim superiority. All the religions...
    ( By P.S. Bhandari )
  • Science is progressing at a tremendous speed.It does not have a prophet.Anyone can propose anything with...
    ( By dr.A.Anburaj )