The War Within Islam
There was a “reverse swing” to the parliamentary inquisition, Contrary to the well-planned humiliation of the uniform, the “elected” members, albeit with 44 percent bogus votes, found soon after the joint session that they were not in sync with those (the 56 percent genuine voters) they “represented.” The Pakistani populace may have been demoralised and disappointed because of May 2, but they still believe in their soldiers. The frustration displayed by Mian Nawaz Sharif was more pathetic. He declared India was not an “enemy.”-- Ikram Sehgal
Beyond some basic identification documents required for foreigners, there are no checks. Every day thousands of people come in, “says Urfi Obaid, one of the members of the Jamaat. It is this lack of screening, says Niaz Farooqui, an official of the Jamiat-ulama-I-Hind, that has often made the Jamaat vulnerable to criticisms of fostering terror ties. "But it has never been proved and I am very well versed with their ideology;there is nothing extremist about them. In fact, with the kind of following they have, if Tablighi Jamaat really had terror ties, the world would have been blasted away by now. “As an indication of its influence, Farooqui says the Jamaat's book, Fazail Amal (Virtues of Good Deeds), is the second most widely read book in the Islamic world after the Koran. -- Abantika Ghosh
Having got an FIR registered against Delhi publication Diamond pocket books for having published two imaginary images of the Prophet (pbuh), Muslim ulema (religious scholars) are now pressing for the arrest of the publisher Gulshan Rai. His action is seen as part of the “West’s enmity of Islam” and “an anti-Islam conspiracy to inflame Muslim sentiments.” In a typical write-up, published in practically every Delhi Urdu newspaper, Maulana Nadeemul Wajidi of Deoband expresses his regret for not living in a country like Pakistan where somebody would have killed the man by now. He cites with approval the recent killing of Pakistani Punjab’s Governor Salman Taseer for showing sympathy for “the accursed blasphemer Asaia Bibi” and that of the author of Rangeela Rasool in Lahore in undivided India. A blasphemer can only be punished with death, says the Maulana. Not resident of Pakistan, unfortunately, however, he cannot demand death for Gulshan Rai. “Living in India, as we do, we are merely demanding,” he says, “action according to the laws of the land. But even that is not coming, as Muslims are not united even on an issue of such paramount importance.’ He regrets that even liberal Hindus are completely silent on this issue, though they often support Muslims on several issues of concern to them. Muslims respect all religious personalities and cannot tolerate blasphemy against the Prophet.
Excerpts from the article follow. Translated from Urdu by Arman Neyazi, NewAgeIslam.com
The Wahabis bless the Saudi regime with legitimacy in the absence of any election, and the regime blesses them with money and a free hand on religion. The only downside is that this system ensures a steady supply of “sitting around guys” — young Saudi males who have nothing other than religious education and no skills to compete — who then get recruited to become 9/11-style hijackers and suicide bombers in Iraq. No one explains it better than Saudi writer Mai Yamani, author of Cradle of Islam and the daughter of Saudi Arabia’s former oil minister. “Despite the decade of the West’s war on terror and Saudi Arabia’s long-term alliance with the United States, the kingdom’s Wahabi religious establishment has continued to bankroll Islamic extremist ideologies around the world”, wrote Yamani in the Daily Star of Beirut, Lebanon, this week. “Bin Laden, born, raised and educated in Saudi Arabia, is a product of this pervasive ideology”, Yamani added. “He was no religious innovator; he was a product of Wahabism, and later was exported by the Wahabi regime as a jihadist. – Thomas L. Friedman
Bin Laden, born, raised and educated in Saudi Arabia, is a product of this pervasive ideology. He was no religious innovator; he was a product of Wahhabism, and later was exported by the Wahhabi regime as a jihadist. During the 1980s, Saudi Arabia spent some $75 billion for the propagation of Wahhabism, funding schools, mosques, and charities throughout the Islamic world, from Pakistan to Afghanistan, Yemen, Algeria and beyond. The Saudis continued such programs after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, and even after they discovered that “the Call” is uncontrollable, owing to the technologies of globalization. Not surprisingly, the creation of a transnational Islamic political movement, boosted by thousands of underground jihadist websites, has blown back into the kingdom. Like the hijackers of 9/11, who were also Saudi-Wahhabi ideological exports (15 of the 19 men who carried out those terror attacks were chosen by bin Laden because they shared the same Saudi descent and education as he), Saudi Arabia’s reserve army of potential terrorists remains, because the Wahhabi factory of fanatical ideas remains intact. -- Mai Yamani
An official of the Special Branch told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity that Special Branch men used to be deployed at post offices to monitor who was subscribing to hate literature, but they were withdrawn about four years ago “for reasons best known to the high-ups”. He said that the withdrawal happened after they did an operation in which they sent money and other valuable material through the mail as a test of post office officials. Several officials were suspended after much of the cash and valuables went missing. -- Rana Tanveer
Interestingly, religious parties like Jamaat-i-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam and some banned sectarian organisations, along with Imran Khan’s Pakistan Thereek-i-Insaf which had originally called a joint Press conference to condemn the raid, changed their stance half-way through the conference when told that the raid was by Saudi forces and not the Americans. Munawar Hussain, JI, chief, was first heard lambasting Pakistan’s PPP-led civilian Government for letting the country’s sovereignty be violated by the Americans, but after a reporter confirmed that the raid was executed by Saudi forces, Munawar turned to Imran Khan and embraced him. ‘Mahshallah!’ he exclaimed. “Today is a glorious day for our Islamic republic!”-- Nadeem F Paracha
THE bad news is that “Operation Geronimo” is the worst debacle for the Pakistani military establishment since the Kargil misadventure. It has seriously shaken the confidence and belief of the nation in and for itself. The good news is that it may help tilt the civil- military imbalance towards an elected civilian parliament that is conscious of the need to amend the “ national security paradigm” that has been monopolised by the military since partition and is responsible for many of our problems. Consider. -- Najam Sethi
During the Cold War era, the US government might have smarted under the pressure of the priorities set by the US military and intelligence agencies towards Pakistan. In that era, US policy on Pakistan was based on four main points: Pakistan’s proximity to the Soviet Union (which could offer the US opportunities to watch Soviet moves); the country’s proximity to the Persian Gulf (which could enable Pakistan to defend vital oil sea transportation routes for the US); the ideological closeness of Pakistan to countries of the Middle East (which could help the US enhance its influence in the Arab world); and the camaraderie of Pakistan with China (which could help the US befriend China). -- Dr Qaisar Rashid
Modernisation, for which the computer fan Assad stands, limits his options in a crisis. He cannot simply have Syrians shot week in, week out and remain the man he was. It seems as if the tide has turned on Bashar al-Assad. In the Syrian rebellion, Assad is losing his aura as the "good" dictator. And some helpers from the security forces are advising the president to wield an iron fist in order to survive. Yes, he would be feared by all and yes, he would become the most hated man in Syria. Bashar al-Assad himself probably doesn't yet know whether he can really play this role. -- Michael Thumann
Will the death of Osama have any impact on militancy in the country? Will it make Pakistan a safer place and will it mean the training camps where candidates arrived from around the world to master skills such as how to hide bombs in their footwear or blow up buildings, will close down?–- Kamila Hyat
One of the major concerns, if not obsessions of Indian ulema and Urdu journalists, expressed in the Urdu Press last few days, though now somewhat diluted in impact by the unfolding Osama story, has been “Blasphemy being perpetrated in India.” A case being used as an example is that of a publisher of comics books. Statements of ulema of all hues and columns by journalists have appeared everyday condemning this and asking for police intervention.
Delhi’s Hindustan Express has been the most active in this campaign. In its zeal to denounce the publisher of these comic books the newspaper itself published images of the Prophet for which it was condemning the publication. None of the ulema have, however, condemned this Muslim newspaper for publishing the Prophet’s images, even if it did that as an example, for which they are after the Hindu publisher’s blood. Several have said that had this happened in a Muslim-majority country the publisher would have been by now killed.
It must be noted that the recent death sentence to a Pakistani Christian woman Aasia Begum, that Indian ulema support as much as their Pakistani counterparts, was given without ascertaining what blasphemy, if any, she had actually perpetrated. The argument is that asking someone to repeat what she had said would be asking her or her accuser to perpetrate blasphemy again. So even without ascertaining if she had committed any blasphemy at all, Aasia Begum was senetenced to death and the ulema of the subcontinent support that. In fact they even support the killing of Pakistani Punjab governor Salman Taseer and the only Christian member of the Pakistani federal cabinet Shahbaz Bhatti, for showing sympathy for this hapless wronged woman.
From that criterion, however, editor and publisher of Hindustan Express should be considered as much, if not more condemnable for publishing images of the Prophet (pbuh). While one can imagine the Hindu publisher of Diamond comics not being aware of the Muslim sensitivities involved, no such defence can be made of Urdu daily Hindustan express which is running a campaign against Diamond comics and itself doing the same thing, something that is truly abhorrent to any Muslim.
Do I sound angry with Hindustan Express? Maybe I do, as I indeed am. Hindustan Express has forced me to look at Prophet Mohammad’s purported images that I never wanted to do. I have never and am never going to read Diamond comics. But I read Hindustan Express. There was no way I or any reader of the paper could have avoided looking at the images of what were supposed to be images of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), regardless of what context they were put in.
Are we at New Age Islam asking for Hindustan Express editor and publisher’s head? No. we are too conscious our own failings and shortcomings and sinfulness to ask for anything remotely like that. Also, we truly believe that Islam is a religion of peace, compassion and forgiveness. But Our ulema, who are so fond of declaring people to be qabil-e-gardan-zadni (fit to get their heads severed from their body) should have by now called for the head (s) of the editor and publisher Hindustan Express Urdu daily. By not doing that and by calling for action against the publisher of diamond comics alone, they are clearly being communal. And that in New Age Islam dictionary is a bigger crime.
The following are excerpts from an article by Perwez Suhaib Ahmad published in the Hindustan Express on 8 May 2011 (Translated from Urdu by Arman Neyazi, NewAgeIslam.com): -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
The successful implementation of the NWDP and NEP could mark the beginning of a new era for Bangladesh, where Democracy has been restored and carried forward by two women Prime Ministers. Nevertheless, given the complex range of initiatives that the Sheikh Hasina Government has introduced to curb the activities of Islamist terrorists, extremists and fundamentalists, a delicate balancing act will be necessary to ensure that the system, long perverted by dogma and extremist ideologies operating at the very centre of power, is not tipped over into a fundamentalist backlash that would wipe out the gains of the past year. -- Sanchita Bhattacharya
Arabs across the region have been inspired by each other to rise in revolt against autocrats. They have been able to do so because — despite attempts to impose divisive religious and sectarian identities on them for all these years — their innate sense of being Arab remains strong. Christians stood guard while fellow Muslim protesters prayed in Egypt; the Shias of Bahrain and the Ibadis of Oman were stirred by the victories of the Sunnis in Tunisia and Egypt to start protests in their own countries. People across the region rejoiced in the streets when Ben Ali and Mubarak stepped down. They did so because they felt not Muslim, Christian, Sunni, Shia, or Coptic — but Arab. To be sure, no protester is demanding a unified Arab nation. They are mostly asking for the right to govern themselves in their separate countries. This isn’t Arab nationalism in the old sense of the term — at least not yet. -- Saif Shahin
The [Ahmadi] community has, however, been used as a convenient ploy by any number of Muslim “leaders,” wishing to drum up support for their own delusions of power. The most notorious case, of course, was that of Z. A. Bhutto, who desperately tried to build up his political fortune in Pakistan by having the Ahmadis declared “Non-Muslim” by a generally elected parliament. Nothing so egregious has happened in post-1947 India, and may perhaps never happen, but it is not that Ahmadis have not been targeted in other ways by Indian Muslim fortune-seekers. Consider the following from my limited files.-- C.M. Naim
The recent and sudden visit by Dr. Shaikh Sudais, the Imam of Harem at Mecca, the holiest city of Islam, to India is considered to be a well thought step to stem the larger pro-democracy sentiments which had a considerable impact on Indian Muslims who are Sunni in majority....
Yes the motive was something else. In fact, it had nothing to do with freedom of speech and expression, civil rights, and life with dignity for the common people as the Shia minority is subjugated in most of the Gulf countries themselves ruled by Sunni kings. Saudi Arab’s intervention in Bahrain is the latest example. -- Mohd Akram Nawaz, NewAgeIslam.com
Though Osama has now been rendered inactive, the terror machine is yet to be dismantled, the theology of violent jihad yet to be pushed out of the marketplace of ideas. But there are reasons to nurture hope. You can today build a small personal library for yourself just with books titled Seeds of Terror, The Nuclear Jihadist, Terror in the Name of God, Sacred Rage, Talibanisation of Pakistan, Descent into Chaos and so on. But should you feel so inclined, you’ll need to multiply shelf-space several times over to add books and videos infused with the spirit of New Age Islam. -- Javed Anand
…Ahmed Mustofa Bisri, a leading Indonesian Islamic scholar, whose message of moderate Islam holds strong echoes of the religion I grew up with as a child in Pakistan. As Muslims seek relief from the hate-mongering tirades of Al Qaeda and other terrorists, I found it reassuring and uplifting to listen to Mr Bisri’s version of a tolerant, caring and spiritual Islam. As head of the Nahdatul Ulama, a leading Indonesian Islamic organisation, Mr Bisri argues that Wahabism, exported and spread by oil-rich Middle Eastern countries, must be countered by those who oppose hatred and violence. “Islam believes in respect for humanity and life … hatred and killing are not in the Quran,…”-- Shada Islam
The problem with the “Doctrine of Necessity” is that in Pakistan it competes with what a perceptive colleague has called the “Doctrine of Absurdity.” How else can you describe how and why the government in power in Pakistan retains legitimacy? …“Once the irrational has been introduced and an air of likelihood imparted to it, we must accept it in spite of the absurdity.” -- Ikram Sehgal
A New Age Islam reader sent the following letter to the editor:
Here is a letter sent by Pakistan’s foremost progressive intellectual and physicist Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy to a friend:
I am sharing with you some lines that I have just written for family and friends who are warning me:
Whatever one might think of Governor Salman Taseer's politics, he was killed this Wednesday for what was certainly the best act of his life: trying to save the life of an illiterate, poor, peasant Christian woman. …….
Even as the mullahs frothed and screamed around me (and at me), I managed to say the obvious: that the culture of religious extremism was resulting in a bloodbath in which the majority of victims are Muslims; that non-Muslims were fleeing Pakistan; that the self-appointed "thaikaydars" of Islam in Pakistan were deliberately ignoring the case of other Muslim countries like Indonesia which do not have the death penalty for blasphemy; that debating the details of Blasphemy Law 295-C did not constitute blasphemy; that American Muslims were very far from being the objects of persecution; that harping on drone attacks was an irrelevancy to the present discussion on blasphemy.
The response? Not a single clap for me. Thunderous applause whenever my opponents called for death for blasphemers. And loud cheers for Qadri, the murderer. When I directly addressed Sialvi and said he had Salman Taseer's blood on his hand, he exclaimed "How I wish I did!" (kaash ke main hota!).
Islamofascism is a reality. This country is destined to drown in blood from civil war. I wish people would stop writing rubbish about Pakistan having an image problem. It's the truth that's really the problem.
Am I afraid? Yes, I'd be crazy not to be. And never more than at the present time. The battle for sanity has been lost. Many friends have written to me to leave Pakistan. How can I? One must keep fighting as long as possible. It is what we owe to future generations.
In a desperate attempt to re-brand its image aimed at capturing the hearts and minds of Muslims, Al-Qaeda has asked its affiliates such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan to cease attacks on the local population and focus instead on operations against Western targets. In statements made over the last several months Al-Qaeda leaders such as Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Yahya al-Libi have emphasised the “sanctity of Muslim blood.” These appeals were obviously prompted by no higher a motive than Al-Qaeda’s nervousness at the rapid erosion of its support base in Pakistan and in other Islamic countries. -- S Iftikhar Murshed
The court that indicted Ilmuddin was a British colonial court; it had a colonial jurisprudential logic and legality. Now the entire paradigm has changed. The crown has been replaced by the crescent. Will the LHC allow a lawyer who can represent the colonial empire? Will the LHC accept the colonial legal paradigm? If it does, what modus operandi would it follow to dispense justice? What about Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, our textbook demigod-saviour, who saved dozens of kafir English men and women during the mutiny of 1857? -- Abbas Zaidi
Kashmiris today do not wish to be with Pakistan. The Hurriyat and sas Geelani may shout themselves hoarse but they will not meet with success on this count. But certainly, New Delhi must quickly work out modalities and initiate dialogue with all stakeholders in a move towards greater autonomy. This will involve a political process and participation at a senior political level. -- Najeeb Jung
Sudais is also not known for being tolerant towards other faiths; his vitriol against the Jews is well known to be repeated here. Moreover, Saudis and thus Sudais represent a particular version of Islam called Wahabism which is truly a minority viewpoint within the overall Islamic weltenschhaung. Thus to call him the imam of all Muslims is patently incorrect and misleading. Sudais, however, himself had no problem as to whose imam he was. In India, he met the representatives of the Deoband and the Ahl e Hadees. Both these Islamic interpretative communities have been at loggerheads over what is termed as ‘correct’ interpretations of Islam. The Deobandis have termed the Ahl e Hadees as ghair muqallid which means that they are outside the fold of Islamic jurisprudential system. The Ahl e Hadees on the other hand have campaigned against the Deobandis arguing that they are no better than the grave worshippers and in fact have graves within the seminary itself. Some of these tirades have been done through the Arabic press with the express intention of gaining Wahabism’s favour and consequently a share in the petro-dollar charity of the Saudi state. The Wahabi state, initially, through the good offices of Ali Mian Nadwi, veered towards the Deobandis but later on found greater merit in the argument of Ahl e Hadees. -- Arshad Alam
If you ask any common criminal—be he a murderer or just an ordinary liar—how he should be dealt with, one can expect him to express some remorse, but in the case of a half-baked mullah you can surely expect him to say, ‘We are blessings sent by Allah for the sake of humankind, and so we ought to be treated in the same way as divine avatars are treated.’ In other words, you can expect the mullahs to say, ‘We will openly and without any restraint mock others’ beliefs and faith. Using all sorts of arguments, we will claim our own beliefs to be “scientific” and that of others false.-- Sheeba Aslam Fehmi