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Books and Documents

The War Within Islam

Thanks to the special personal bond between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the rulers of the UAE, the bilateral relationship with the Gulf kingdom has been radically re-framed in the last four years. But Delhi is a long way from realising the full potential of the strategic partnership with Abu Dhabi....

 
Pakistan and its Theological Heart
Akbar Ahmed
Pakistan and its Theological Heart
Akbar Ahmed

“For Professor Akbar S Ahmed to be invited at the Council of Islamic Ideology — the heart of what many see as conservative ultra-orthodox interpretations of Islam which are often imposed on Pakistanis — and for him to speak with empathy and wisdom on women’s rights, respect for minorities, and universal ideas of peace and justice as core teaching tools for religious scholars and youth was breaking new ground!”....

 

Groups of girlfriends, meanwhile, are making celebratory plans for their first drive. Rezan Ben Hassan, 29, learned when she was 16 on desert camping trips with her family. She intends to take the keys to the family vehicle on Sunday and cruise to a cafe. In Al Khobar, Ms. Bassem, the motorcycle lover, plans to hit the road with friends from the local Harley Davidson club. Of their roughly 700 members in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, a handful of women love Hogs....

 

In other words, change Islam in its Saudi nucleus and you change the world. It was not, of course, Saudi moderation that put 15 Saudis on the 9/11 planes. It was the well-funded metastasis of extreme Saudi religious intolerance — its Wahhabi orthodoxy — into forms of murderous Islamist hatred of the apostate West. It was the House of Saud’s unseemly deal with fundamentalist clerical firebrands: Spare us here at home, and we’ll grant you license abroad....

 

Most analysis of the Saudi–Iranian rivalry seems to miss the fundamental points that underline the tension. Both countries are not trying to defend themselves from each other. Iran is trying to save itself from either foreign intervention or domestic unrest. While Saudi Arabia does not fear foreign intervention, it is concerned with domestic dissent....

The Old Moderate Barelvi Islam Changed To Radical Islam
Syed Kamran Hashmi
The Old Moderate Barelvi Islam Changed To Radical Islam
Syed Kamran Hashmi

In the name of devotion to the Prophet (PBUH), a doctrine that always distinguished Barelvis, they started using blasphemy and the belief in Muhammad (PBUH) as the last Prophet, to kill or threaten anyone who disagreed with their faith. Everything that was related to the Prophet, his shirt, his camel, his sword; the food that he liked to eat, the drinks he preferred, had to be respected the same way and up to the same extent by everyone. In other words, if He liked milk, and you didn’t, it was considered near blasphemy. ...

If he was ever tempted to claim the title of Caliph, he never did so, preferring to consolidate his rule in the heartlands of the Arabian Peninsula rather than cultivating the extra-territorial ambitions and seeking the sort of external confrontations that had destroyed his predecessors in the early 19th century. But the central claims of Saudi Hanbali/Wahhabi/Madkhali Salafism about the religious legitimacy of a ruler and the duty of allegiance owed to him remain foundational to the state he created...

In present times, many schools and madrasas are running institutions where boys and girls study together in the same classroom, Numerous madrasas in Bihar and Gujarat allow boys and girls to sit in the same class. But AMU stands apart. It breeds counter-modernism. It continues to further gender-based segregation among Muslim students. It runs separate schools for boys and girls. Even undergraduate girls and boys cannot study together. ....

Yemen was poor and vulnerable before the war: It depended on imports for 80 percent of basic grains and suffered severe water shortages. Today, three-quarters of the country’s 28 million people suffer food insecurity, including 8.4 million who are wholly dependent on food aid to survive. Some 50,000 children died of hunger and related causes last year alone, according to the humanitarian group Save the Children. One million people have cholera — the world’s largest such epidemic in a half-century....

 

The infiltration of terrorist elements into mainstream politics in Pakistan now appears imminent. As they compound the power they have secured through violence and extremist street mobilization with constitutional legitimacy, the fundamentals of Pakistan’s politics can only change for the worse. Establishment parties who have long exploited these extremist groups may find that their own power is significantly compromised, or even directly challenged, by the inroads extremist formations make into the country’s electoral politics....

 
Pakistan’s Media Community Is Effectively under Siege
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Pakistan’s Media Community Is Effectively under Siege
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

The unwarranted blocking of the distribution of one of the main independent newspapers has yet again shown that the military are determined to maintain their grip on access to news and information in Pakistan. It is clear that the military high command does not want to allow a democratic debate in the months preceding a general election....

 

“The threat of transnational terrorism is rearing its head again. TTP militants have relocated to Afghanistan. The Islamic State (IS) is establishing a footprint in Afghanistan near the Pakistani border with a very real potential of spill over into parts of Pakistan. This situation has been compounded by the return of battle hardened militants from Syria and Iraq….

Draconian rules—including not just a ban on women drivers but also alcohol prohibition, severe dress codes requiring women to cover themselves before leaving the house, and state-enforced gender segregation in virtually all public places, including Starbucks—have been so well publicized throughout the world that many casual and distant observers of the Middle East think this sort of thing is par for the course over there. It’s not....

Migrants who had come to Pakistan from India faced a double jeopardy: first they lost their belongings and faced enormous hardships while crossing the border, and second following the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 they were uprooted again. This community made enormous sacrifices for the creation of Pakistan, only to have their patriotic credentials questioned by successive governments....

 

That is the MBS pattern and it has an echo: it is the manner of the Russian Communist regime at the conclusion of its long exercise of power. The pattern is clear: granting alleged reforms while attempting at the same time under the radar to reinforce control. According to reports, Human Rights Watch criticised the arrests and said that Saudi authorities had long repressed activists and dissidents for peaceful activities....

 

The AL-led Government has consistently reaffirmed and demonstrated its determination to honour its 2008 Election pledge to bring the War Criminals of the 1971 genocide to justice. The achievements on this count are already remarkable. The Trials are the unfinished agenda of the Liberation War, and need to be sustained, despite efforts of anti-liberation forces and their sympathizers in the Diaspora and international community, to disrupt the process....

 

India can get away with anything because it is not internally troubled and no terrorism radiates from it to the outside world while Pakistan faces sanctions for harbouring terrorists. No matter what India does to punish Pakistan, it is with the tacit approval of the world sick of Pakistan’s lack of internal sovereignty with 60 per cent of its territory without the writ of the state....

 

Pakistan could not have vaulting quality of leadership after Muhammad Ali Jinnah died on 11 September 1948. In the early 1950s, social chaos in Pakistan did make the political organisations weak and corrupt which promoted nepotism. The newly born ‘Islamic state’ was passing through febrile situations when landlords, corrupt politicians and bureaucrats held power and influence over public offices and filled their coffers....

 

Amidst the iniquitous engineering Pakistan’s political structures are increasingly exposed to, there is emerging the promise of a rights movement premised on the legitimacy of its demands and the relevance of its message, claiming space and accountability within a constricted political landscape. While framed within the context of Pashtun identity and experience,...

 
Arab League's Paralysis Reflects Its Irrelevance
Mohammad Pervez Bilgrami
Arab League's Paralysis Reflects Its Irrelevance
Mohammad Pervez Bilgrami

The Arab League has turned out to be a disastrous venture for both Arabs and Muslims; a group run by lackey states and kingdoms that have proved to be utterly ineffective in world politics. Its failure and ineffectiveness is actually rooted in the formation of this effete ethno-lingual intergovernmental organization – actually a product of the flawed phenomenon of Arab nationalism as propagated by the colonial powers a century ago....

 

But the “reformer” prince’s rhetoric is colliding with the reality of his rule. Since May 15, his government has been arresting human rights advocates — among them some of the most prominent Saudi women activists — in a crackdown that perpetuates long-standing Saudi repression. The crown prince’s playbook is an old one. For strongmen in the Muslim-majority world, the trope of the scary Muslim is invaluable. It allows them to bond with sceptics of Islam abroad...

 

Pakistani Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai visited Pakistan for five days in March this year. She is Pakistan’s second Nobel Laureate and has been rejected by most Pakistanis; the first laureate, Dr Abdus Salam, was also rejected. Pakistan supports Aafiya Siddiqi instead, an al Qaeda agent serving 86 years in an American prison, whose release has also been demanded by Pakistan as well as by the terrorist organisation, Islamic State....

 

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran are both responsible for this horrific carnage. Both states are responsible for deepening the sectarian fault lines in the region. Saudi accusations of Iran orchestrating a serpentine Shiite takeover of the Arab world are self-serving exaggerations that conveniently cloak Riyadh’s own malfeasance...

 It is this silence, practised by the not-yet-disappeared in the Soviet Union and in Germany that permitted enforced disappearances to take place, their numbers to grow. So, too, will be the consequences of similar silence in Pakistan. No one expects things to devolve, their own lives to be impacted — until it is too late. The not-yet-disappeared of Pakistan must awake, suddenly and immediately, and realise that innocence is not sufficient protection against the abyss of disappearance....

 

Israel has made political efforts to protect its interests in Syria, but there is not much possibility that such efforts can succeed. Even if for some reason an outside party such as Russia induced Iran to agree not to build a base that threatened Israel, Iran cannot be counted on to keep such an agreement, and no one else would feel strongly enough to insist that Iran live up to it. Iran cares more about this issue than anyone else except Israel....

 
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