The War Within Islam
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