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Books and Documents

The War Within Islam

What was surprising in the Sirin Middya case was the silence of the university authorities. The Aliah University website states: “It is hoped that along with the people of any race, creed, caste or class, this university will play a crucial and leading role in the advancement of higher education”. The vision statement mentions that the university would like to instill a dynamism so that the students “can successfully cope with the critical needs and challenges of the present... develop love and respect for fellow citizens of the country, and integrate themselves to the nation.” Transferring Sirin Middya to another campus, away from the protesting students, was hardly a reflection of this spirit. It took the West Bengal minority affairs minister’s intervention to let her resume classes. Rayana Kazi is still struggling to exercise her choice and has had to seek protection from the high court against a harrassment which is now over an year long. – By Azra Razzack

These shrines are a memorial to the hybridity of the land, if not the state, of Pakistan. Until Partition, before the exodus of Pakistan’s Hindu and Sikh populations, they were places (as they still are in India) where Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims worshipped together. Behind each one—formed out of more than six centuries of religious reform, which created humanistic, more tolerant hybrids of India’s religions—would be some tale built around a local saint that celebrated the plurality of the land. To adhere to the spirit of these shrines was to know that deeper than any doctrinal difference was a shared humanity; it was almost to feel part of a common religion; the spread of this shared culture through Punjab, Sindh and Kashmir constituted an immense human achievement. And for as long as the plurality remained, the religion remained, seemingly immune to fanaticism, incapable of being reduced to bigotry and prejudice. But once the land of Pakistan, after Partition, was drained of its diversity (and this constituted no less a shock than if London or New York were suddenly cleansed of their non-white populations), the religion lost its deepest motivation, which was to bring harmony to a diverse and plural population. The amazing thing was that even after Partition, when the land of Pakistan was no longer so plural, it was this religion, full of mysticism, poetry and song, that clung on as the dominant faith of the people of Pakistan. ...

As the attacks on shrines like Data Sahib multiply, as the Americans discover that nothing will be achieved by throwing money at Pakistan, as India realizes that Pakistan’s hatred of it is not rational, that the border issue with Kashmir cannot alone be the cause of such passion, as the world begins to see that Pakistan’s problems are not administrative, Pakistanis will have to find a new narrative. The sad truth is that they are still a long way from discovering the true lesson behind the experience of the past 60 years: that it is of language, dress, notions of social organization, of shared literatures and customs, of Sufi shrines and their stories, that nations are made, not religion. That has proved to be too thin a glue and 60 years later, it has left millions of people dispossessed and full of hateful lies: a nation of human bombs. -- Aatish Taseer

However, the adherents of the Deobandi school of thought, to which the Taliban belongs, are opposed to the idea of Muslims visiting Sufi shrines and offering prayers, a practice known as piri-faqiri. The Deobandis deem piri-faqiri to be heretical, a gross violation of Islamic doctrine; ditto mystical dancing. The Deobandis, therefore, consider the Barelvis as kafir whose neck can be put to sword, no question asked. A week before July 1, the TTP had sent a letter to the Data Ganj Baksh administration threatening to attack the shrine, claiming its status was equivalent to that of the Somnath temple in Gujarat, India. The symbolism inherent in the comparison wasn’t lost—the Somnath temple had been repeatedly raided by Sultan Mehmood Ghaznavi, ‘the idol destroyer’, who believed his marauding attacks would sap the fighting spirit of the Hindus. The attack on the Data Darbar was, similarly, aimed at demoralising the Barelvis, besides striking at the root of Lahore’s religious and cultural ethos. ...

Renowned Islamic scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, a member of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), which furnishes legal advice on Islamic issues to the Pakistan government, laments, “Labelling others infidel and kafir has become a preferred task of the mullahs. It’s clear that every sect considers others heretical, kafirs and dwellers of hell. Even verses of the Quran are wrongly used to disprove others’ faith and sects.”

In a way, a minority of Pakistan’s population has taken to declaring the rest as kafir. Look at the figures—95 per cent of the Pakistani population are Muslim, of which 85 per cent are Sunni and 15 per cent Shia. But for the five per cent belonging to the Ahle Hadith (Wahabis), the Sunnis prescribe to the Hanafi school of jurisprudence. They are further subdivided into the Barelvi and Deobandi schools. Most agree on the following composition of Pakistan’s population—60 per cent Barelvis, 15 per cent Deobandis, 15 per cent Shias, 5 per cent Ahle Hadith, and the remaining 5 per cent constituting Ahmadis, Ismailis, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis, etc. This means only 20 per cent of Pakistanis (15 per cent of Deobandis plus 5 per cent of Ahle Hadith) strictly consider the remaining 80 per cent as kafir, even willing to subject them to death and destruction. -- Amir Mir

Pakistan should take a leaf out of its old wing, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), where its Supreme Court has struck down the bulk of the controversial 5th Amendment by reinstating a ban on Islamic political parties. Bangladesh’s original constitution was secular in nature but following a coup in 1975, the constitution was amended and given a religious tinge. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that she was “not in favour of banning any political party”. This may have more to do with the fact that the Jamaat-e-Islami is a large political party with some clout. Earlier, the Bangladesh High Court had outlawed punishments handed down in fatwas (religious edicts), after a series of cases of Muslim women being beaten and caned. Not only that, the Bangladesh government has also banned books by Maulana Maududi because they “encourage terrorism and militancy”. It is time that Pakistan follows in the footsteps of Bangladesh, also a Muslim country but which is paving a path towards the traditions laid down by its founding fathers. Mr Jinnah had also visualised a secular Pakistan but this was not to be. -- Editorial in Daily Times, Lahore, August 2, 2010

This week saw Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan take over as “PM” of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The area, which Pakistan calls Azad Jammu and Kashmir or AJK, has since its 2006 elections been in a state of political crisis.

Dawn reported on July 26: “Just 30 hours before the vote on a no-confidence motion against PM Raja Farooq Haider, a faction of the ruling Muslim Conference which moved the motion claimed that 18 of 24 cabinet members had resigned... the AJK Assembly speaker, who is supporting the PM, said he hadn’t received any resignation... He called a session of the assembly for a vote. It will be the third time the assembly will vote on a no-confidence motion since its election in 2006... Former PM Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, who had been voted out in January last year, has been nominated again as the Leader of the House. A spokesman for Sardar Attique, who is spearheading the move against the PM (of his own party), claimed to have the support required...” The incumbent “PM” tendered his resignation on July 27. According to Daily Times, he accused the federal government of “conspiring against him.” The ISI is a guiding force behind this move, suggests a report in The News: “Haider, while talking to this correspondent... admitted to having met General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, DG ISI but said people had created an impression he was an anti-state person and he met Pasha to clarify his position. ‘I convinced the general and at the end of the meeting, Pasha said that after listening to your views I have found you a patriotic person,’ the AJK PM said.” -- Ruchika Talwar

 

It goes without saying that there exists not even a single Barelvi terrorist organisation in Pakistan. And yet, another complication of this is the potent mixture of Pashtun nationalism with Deobandi Islam. Mix Pashtun nationalism with Deobandi Islam and you get Hafiz Gul Bahadur, the most important terrorist leader from North Waziristan. Hafiz Gul Bahadur is the direct descendant of Faqir of Ipi, whose claim to fame was that he raised the banner of violent jihad against the newly formed dominion of Pakistan. Thus, Pakistan has faced a war against militant Islam since the first day it was created. The world discovered the Taliban a decade ago but Pakistan has been forced to reckon with them since its inception. And they were called the Taliban even in the time of Lord Curzon where a religious fanatic, Mullah Pawinda, had challenged British rule. -- Yasser Latif Hamdani

"During my frequent visits to Pakistan in the 1990s, all kinds of theories were expressed whenever there was an attack on members of the Shia or Sunni community," the German journalist Hans Bremer wrote in The News (Feb 26, 2003). "One that always struck me as strange was that a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia was being fought on the streets of Pakistani cities.''. -- Adnan Farooq

The Punjab government has sidestepped the longer term core issue of terrorism by shifting the debate to the threat to democracy from within. This is in line with the PPP view in Islamabad that the judges and generals are a bigger threat to its government than terrorism.

In the next two months or so, we can be reasonably sure that there will be more acts of terrorism as well as more disqualifications from parliament. Meanwhile, the judges of the Supreme Court, who are in a very aggressive mode, may undo elements of the 18th amendment that enable a degree of parliamentary oversight of judicial appointments and also try to unseat President Zardari on one count or another. The stage is therefore set for more confusion, confrontation and instability. -- Najam Sethi

 

Deplorable and ugly as the violence has been from certain Baloch quarters, the real introspection required is on the part of the Pakistani state — introspection that is hinted at occasionally but never actually delivered on. While the terrible days of violent suppression by the security forces in the Musharraf era may be over, there is a sense that the Pakistan Army continues to view the Baloch problem with uncompromising eyes. Proof of that is the continuing problem of ‘missing persons’. While Baloch leaders claim many thousand people are missing, independent observers suggest a figure between one and two thousand-- A Dawn Editorial

 

According to political analyst Hasan Askari, the militants have polished their approach, expanded their arsenal and improved their tactics. They also seem to be targeting the Army as well as the police — their original targets. The federal Government says that Punjabi groups have been responsible for most of the daring strikes in the province, but authorities in Lahore continue to deny their existence. The provincial Law Minister insists that he did nothing wrong to canvass for votes in the company of some of these militant leaders. While the Uzbeks, Chechens, Arabs and other foreign fighters who have found refuge in Pakistan’s tribal areas have no option but to fight the Pakistani Army, the Punjabis have the option to return to their own province and stage more attacks. -- Sankar Sen

 

Political Commentator Rafia Zakaria in an article published in Dawn on February 10, 2010, observed: “As Pakistan’s only mega city Karachi’s demographics, history of communal conflict and dynamics of urban governance all present a lethal mix. In addition, its status as a global city, one with widespread (and largely unregulated) communication systems, present unique opportunities to terrorist groups wishing to use the city as a hub for monitoring and proliferating transnational networks. More al Qaeda planners and leaders are believed to have been apprehended in Karachi than in any other single city, pointing to the fact that Karachi is not simply a target for terrorist attacks but a place which provides a cover to groups planning them.”…

Karachi now provides an entire ‘infrastructure’ for terrorist organisations to flourish. The TTP, Taliban and al Qaeda, facing some pressure in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA, continue to pour into the port city, further damaging an already dwindling Pakistani economy. The city is already a safe haven for Islamist terrorists, and is evolving as a significant theatre of violence. Unless extremist networks are uprooted now, the ‘descent into anarchy’ that has been noted across Pakistan’s other provinces may well come to afflict the country’s commercial capital. -- Ajit Kumar Singh and Tushar Ranjan Moahnty

 

The two people who were responsible for starting Pakistan down this ‘slippery slope’ of extremism and legal discrimination against minorities are both dead and have been for decades, yet their legacy survives and has become a part of our constitution and our system of laws. It seems that even the most unjust laws, if based on religion, not only are allowed to exist but seem immune to change.

Interestingly, after the passage of the 18th Amendment to the constitution our apex court seems willing to examine whether it deserves to exist as an amendment yet no attempt has been made by this independent court to examine the laws that have made a mockery of the very concept of equality under the law for all citizens of Pakistan. -- Dr Syed Mansoor Hussain

 
Why Live In Kufristan? Go To Pakistan; It Was Created For The Likes Of You
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
Why Live In Kufristan? Go To Pakistan; It Was Created For The Likes Of You
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

Quoting a press release of Majlis-e-Ahrar, Punjab, the Daily Sahafat, Delhi (18 May 2010) reports that Muslims are proud of the fact that, with the intervention of Majlis-e-Ahrar chief Maulana Amanullah and the Shahi Imam of Punjab Maulana Habeebur Rahman Saani Ludhianawi, they were able to raise their heads high in this Kufristan, the land of Kafirs. Ahrar volunteers raised the war cry of Allah-o-Akbar when the local administration removed the film shooting apparatus of a movie company that was trying to shoot a film “Tanu weds Manu” reportedly without any permission inside the premises of a mosque. [Urdu paper report published below]

It is possible that, as reported, the movie-makers were doing something unauthorised. If so, local Muslims were right to protest and Majlis-e-Ahrar was right to come to their aid if the administration was reportedly not listening to them as there are few Muslims in Kapurthala. It is quite possible that the administration went into action only when they apprehended a law and order problem following the involvement of Majlis warriors. If true the administration should be taken to task by the higher authorities for allowing this unauthorised shooting to continue within the mosque premises despite the local Muslims’ protest.

But the proud victory celebration in this “Kufristan” was amazing. As reported, this victory “not only stopped the shooting of the film but restored the prestige of the few Muslims who live in Kapurthala”, said Dr. Abdur Rasheed and other Muslims thanking the Shahi Imam of Punjab Maulana Habeebur Rahman Saani Ludhianawi and Majlis-e-Ahrar. They said: “we are proud of our lion-hearted leader whose courageous intervention raised our head high with pride in this Kufristan.”

Clearly there are people in our community who are not happy living in what they call Kufristan, the land of infidels, even though the overwhelming majority of people in India are believers. But a believer for them is one who believes in their narrow interpretation of a religion that had come to this world as a blessing to the entire world. Not for them is the Quranic dictum lakum deenakim waleya deen (For you your religion and for me mine). The only Deen for them is the one they think they possess. There are no other deens in the world. God has sent to this world no prophets other than Prophet Mohammad (S) as far as they are concerned. It means nothing to these people that the Holy Quran has repeatedly demanded that we believe in all the prophets (1, 24, 000, according to one account,) as a part of our basic faith and give them equal respect as Prophet Mohammad (S) and treat their followers as Ahl-e-Kitab (People of the Book) and have close social interaction with them including establishing marital relations  Indeed even within that Deen, for them the only correct interpretation is the one they believe in. No one else has the right to interpret Islam according to his own light and live by it.

These Kufristanis apparently believe they are living in the Mecca of Prophet Mohammad’s early years of prophethood. But if that is the case, should they not be following the policy of Prophet Mohammad in those days. Are they aware what horrendous atrocities the Prophet and his followers had to face day in and day out? And do they know what the Prophet and his followers did? They did not even raise a finger in their defence. So, if you believe you are a Muslim living in early seventh century pre-Hijri Kufristan of Mecca, behave like one. Don’t go to the administration protesting shooting of a movie in your masjid precincts. Be grateful for having a masjid in the first place. Muslims in Kufristan Mecca didn’t have a mosque at all.

However, the question for us, the mainstream Muslims, to ponder is: do we want people like this living in our midst? Can we live peacefully in this multi-cultural, multi-religious Darul Aman with some in our midst treating it as Darul Harb? Would the confrontationist behaviour of these people not embroil us all in a conflict with other people in our multi-religious, multi-cultural society? How would people from other religions distinguish between mainstream Muslims and these Kufristanis? How would they know this Muslim is a HIndustani and this one is a Kufristani? Is it not time we asked the few Kufristanis among us to leave us and migrate to the land that was specifically created for them? Obviously when Pakistan was created it was clear that it would not be able to accommodate all Indian Muslims. So who was it created for? Apparently the founders of Pakistan, whether they were Muslims or Hindus, must have thought this new country will be a haven for those who were uncomfortable living among Kafirs and want to live among the “pure.” How come we still have people among us who consider this land Kufristan? What are they doing here? What is there motive in living in our midst? How come they are allowed to run major warrior organisations, mosques and newspapers?

A popular Dawn columnist Nadeem F. Paracha writes in a recent column: “A few weeks ago I got an email from a reader about a Pakistani in the US who (on Facebook) accused me of being a “Zionist-backed agent of secularism”. When someone asked the gentleman that, if he hated the US so much why was he living there, he conveniently (and without any hint of irony) claimed that his mission was to convert (to Islam) as many Christians and Jews in the US as possible.” Now, is it possible that these Kufristanis are living in India with a similar motive? After all, Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat-ul-Ulema did not support the creation of Pakistan with a similar motivation.

 But can we mainstream Muslims, who are proud of and happy living in multi-religious India, allow these Kufristanis to live in our midst? Should we not ask them to leave for the “land of the pure,” where there would be no Kafirs (they have been practically weeded out), only Shias and Sunnis, Deobandis and Barelvis, Salafis and Ahl-e-Hadeesis and, of course, Ahmedias, both the Lahoris and the Qadianis?

Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

While actors like the 7/7 bombers and Faisal Shahzad are an obvious embarrassment to Pakistan and to the Pakistani communities in the West, so are the growing number of rabid, tech-savvy young people floating around various interactive websites to mouth the most obnoxious ideas about Islam and politics. There are websites out there glorifying utter mad men and the most twisted conspiracy theories, and many of these are owned, run and frequented by Pakistanis who work and are comfortably settled in Western countries. --Nadeem F Paracha

TWO separate news items of interest to Muslims appeared in English newspapers on Wednesday, and were reproduced on NewAgeIslam.com as well. ‘Educate Muslim girls, urges latest fatwa’ was one, followed by

‘Two held for attack on Sunni cleric in Lucknow’. It turns out that the Sunni cleric who was attacked, Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, is the same who issued the fatwa to educate Muslim girls. ...

One can only hope that this incident does not portend a larger trend. We have seen Muslims killing Muslims inside mosques in the name of Islam, in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.  India has thankfully been spared—until now. It is up to us Indian Muslims to learn from the mistakes of our brethren elsewhere and make sure these horror stories don’t start haunting us now. -- New Age Islam News Bureau

Extremist clerics have misled Muslims by promoting bias against Muslim women with a consistency that is the prerogative of a closed mind. They have done their best to separate Muslims from modernity; now they want to divorce Muslims from the modern economy. This is a heinous travesty, since Islam rescued its first communities from the grip of jahiliya, or obscurantism.

Dramatic displays of silliness will, but naturally, provoke headlines, but they will not travel. No Muslim is going to resign from an insurance company, or surrender his or her LIC policy because of a marginal fatwa from Deoband. The faithful have more resilience than some of their self-appointed preachers believe. -- M J Akbar

Die Zeit: Where does this disease come from?

Abdelwahab Meddeb: If fanaticism was the disease of Catholicism and Nazism was the German disease, then fundamentalism is the disease of Islam. On the one hand, it is a way of fleeing the centuries-old inferiority to the West, but it is also a reaction to the failure of the West to acknowledge Islam as representing an inner otherness. But we should no longer react to these provocations by purely military means as in the failed war in Iraq. The real danger is not warlike Islam but authoritarian Islam which subjects day-to-day life in its entirety to religious practice.

Die Zeit: What was more provocative about the speech given by Pope Benedict XVI. – his criticism of the basis of the Islamic faith because it stands above all reason, or his raising of the question of violence? ...

Abdelwahab Meddeb: The Pope is right to suggest that in principle, all belief systems built on ultimate truths will produce fanaticism. But what the Pope says about the role of reason in Islam is totally at odds with historical reality. One only has to study the theologians who convincingly founded Islam on reason following debates on Christianity and Hellenism. Seeing as he is German, it's a mystery to me why the Pope is not familiar with the rich intellectual resources devoted to these very issues by Islamic studies in Germany. That said, the protesting Muslims don’t have the slightest interest in subtleties like the question of reason. They take to the street because of the Pope’s mention of the issue of violence, and they don’t even realise that these violent manifestations confirm what the Pope is saying. Well into the nineteenth century and in many cases until the end of the colonial period, the great Islamic reformers repeatedly managed to neutralise jihad. But after World War I, the Islamists rediscovered jihad as a driving force to restore the hegemony and sovereignty of Islam.

I sometimes wonder how religious scholars from other communities, such as Hindus Christians, Buddhists, and Sikhs, interact with the common folk among their co-religionists. Frankly, sometimes I really envy them. Non-Muslim women can freely ask questions to their priests, gurus and so on and discuss religious matters with them. I simply cannot, for the life of me, fathom why Muslim women cannot have a healthy and positive dialogue with the ulema. Is it because of some deep-rooted fear on both sides? Is it because of a totally unwarranted hierarchy that seems to prevail between the ulema and the common folk, paralleling that between medieval kings and their subjects? I don’t need to explain who the ‘kings’ and the ‘subjects’ here are, for surely you will understand.

 During my travels, if I do happen to visit an Islamic seminary I would be delighted to meet you and discuss all these issues. I promise to come properly dressed, and along with my mahram (my husband) Inshallah. But, for heaven’s sake, don’t whisk me off into the women’s quarters or banish me to a corner. And please do not claim that my voice, too, must be ‘veiled’—which is what some of you insist in the fatwas you have issued. I have experienced that enough, and, quite frankly, am not willing to take it any longer. My dialogue is with you. I am your sister after all, and when I die I know that for my maghfirat duas will be held in your madrasas for the peace of my soul. Till I live, please allow me to let my soul to talk freely with yours. -- Nigar Ataulla

For the first time in the six-decade-long resistance to Israeli occupation, the Palestinians are no longer sure who the enemy is. Adding to the confusion are the Jihadi Salafis.

The Hamas has brutally put down attempts by the Jihadi Salafi groups in Gaza to challenge its rule and lead the resistance into unchartered territory. But the larger implications of a possible descent into al-Qaeda style, uncontrollable violence does not bode well for the resistance. The fight against Israel and the demand for an independent Palestinian nation have supporters around the world. If the resistance falls into the hands of groups deriving inspiration from al-Qaeda, this support is likely to evaporate. And with that, the isolation of the Palestinians will be complete. -- K.S. Dakshina Murthy

In its beginnings, the Pakistan of Faisal Shahzad’s parents was animated by the modern ideals of its founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. In that vision, Pakistan was to be a state for the Muslims of the subcontinent, but not an Islamic state in the way it ordered its political and cultural life. The bureaucratic and military elites who dominated the state, and defined its culture, were a worldly breed. The British Raj had been their formative culture. But the world of Pakistan was recast in the 1980s under a zealous and stern military leader, Zia ul-Haq. Zia offered Pakistan Islamization and despotism. He had ridden the jihad in Afghanistan next door to supreme power; he brought the mullahs into the political world, and they, in turn, brought the militants with them.

This was the Pakistan in which young Faisal Shahzad was formed; the world of his parents was irretrievable. The maxim that Pakistan is governed by a trinity—Allah, Army, America—gives away this confusion: The young man who would do his best to secure an American education before succumbing to the call of the jihad is a man in the grip of a deep schizophrenia. The overcrowded cities of Islam—from Karachi and Casablanca to Cairo—and those cities in Europe and North America where the Islamic diaspora is now present in force have untold multitudes of men like Faisal Shahzad.

This is a long twilight war, the struggle against radical Islamism. We can’t wish it away. No strategy of winning “hearts and minds,” no great outreach, will bring this struggle to an end. America can’t conciliate these furies. These men of nowhere—Faisal Shahzad, Nidal Malik Hasan, the American-born renegade cleric Anwar Awlaki now holed up in Yemen and their likes—are a deadly breed of combatants in this new kind of war. Modernity both attracts and unsettles them. America is at once the object of their dreams and the scapegoat onto which they project their deepest malignancies. -- Fouad Ajami

Turkish officials have been reticent about the revision of the Hadith until now, aware of the controversy it is likely to cause among traditionalist Muslims, but they have spoken to the BBC about the project, and their ambitious aims for it.

The forensic examination of the Hadiths has taken place in Ankara University's School of Theology. An adviser to the project, Felix Koerner, says some of the sayings - also known individually as "hadiths" - can be shown to have been invented hundreds of years after the Prophet Muhammad died, to serve the purposes of contemporary society.

"Unfortunately you can even justify through alleged hadiths, the Muslim - or pseudo-Muslim - practice of female genital mutilation," he says. -- Amberin Zaman

 

The communal flare up that hit Bareilly – a sleepy city of Uttar Pradesh – on March 2, 2010 when Juloos-e-Muhammadi procession (a procession taken out to mark the birthday of Prophet Muhammad) turned violent after insisting on marching through a communally sensitive locality, which was followed by riots between Hindus and Muslims. Soon, the trouble escalated to other parts of the city due to which curfew was clamped. On March 8, Tauqir Raza Khan, son-in-law of Subhani Miyan and national president of a Muslim organization, Itihad-e-Millat Council (IMC), who was leading the Juloos-e-Muhammadi procession, was arrested from his office by police in connection with the rioting. The police booked Tauqeer Raza, who had been booked in the past under various sections of the IPC, including anti-national activities for his fiery speeches, for inciting people and plotting riots. -- M Shamsur Rabb Khan

Old Eskimos had a clever technique for hunting wolves. They would plant a bloody knife in the snow. Lured by the smell of blood, the wolves would approach the knife and lick the blade, cutting their tongues. Without realizing that they were drinkng their own blood, wolves would continue licking until they had bled to death.

Back in 1980s, Pakistan military adopted a doctrine of strategic depth. This doctrine is proving Eskimos' knife for Pakistan. The doctrine implies that Pakistan needs Afghanistan as backyard beyond India's reach. The Afghan-India nexus dominating military's mind is evident from a recent interaction General Kayani had with media recently. On February 1, he told foreign correspondents: ''“We want Afghanistan to be our strategic depth''. In two days time, he was telling Pakistani journalists:'' I am India-centric.''

It is in search of strategic depth that Pakistan military, post-September 11, has been hunting with the American-hound and running with Taliban-hare. Definitely not an easy position. That country's military establishment has not given up Jihadi assets is evident from media reports. -- Farooq Sulehria

Leading Islamophobes and Zionists have naturally welcomed Dr. Qadri’s one-dimensional fatwa, condemning suicide bombing and terrorism. There was hardly any reference to the context; the ongoing Anglo-US-Israeli terrorism over the last three decades that has resulted in occupation, theft of land and natural resources, and numerous massacres of innocent Muslims (Sabra and Shatila, Qana, Jenin, Lebanon, Gaza, Fallujah, Highway of Death going towards Basra, etc). Far from a fatwa, it looks like the typical spin of a nasty neo-conservative. If the subject of the fatwa is terrorism, then he should at least define this elusive term; according to Dr. Qadri, terrorism is targeting non-combatants, whereas ‘legitimate’ war mean targeting combatants. It is strange for man claiming to have scholarly credential, to come up with such a simplistic view of war and terrorism, which bears no relation to the real world. The methods of warfare have ‘evolved’ from the days of spears and swords, and with the use of explosives over populated cities, substantial ‘collateral’ damage is guaranteed; war means the mass killing of civilians. -- Yamin Zakaria

India’s Composite Culture: Emerging Threats
Sultan Shahin, Editor New Age Islam
India’s Composite Culture: Emerging Threats
Sultan Shahin, Editor New Age Islam

What Muslims Need To Do To Neutralise Them

... Mainstream Islam is still mainstream. These exclusivist and warring sections are still small, though with the infusion of massive money power they have grown quite aggressive lately.

But if we want to contribute to the safeguarding of India’s composite culture, we will have to take the bull by its horns. Time for dilly-dallying is long past. We will have to go back to our roots, our Quranic roots, our philosophical roots, our greatest saints and their teachings.

WE will have to once again inculcate the broadmindedness of our saints, the generosity and forgiveness, the attitude of gratitude that was the hallmark of our prophet. It has now become a question of safeguarding not only our religion and our composite culture but also our children, our youth from being whisked away to Jihadi camps and active and sleeper cells. The very least we can do to safeguard our own youth as much as India’s composite culture is to explain the following to our community loudly and repeatedly:

1. That we are not a chosen people; Islam-supremacism is nonsense and that the ummah of all prophets are equal in the eyes of God who will judge them according to their own faith, not ours. It is nonsense to believe that only Muslims will go to Heaven.

2. That the Holy Quran is not a book that was revealed in one sitting. The war verses in the Quran were meant for wars being fought then and do not apply to situations today. These verses were revealed to the prophet as guidance for the situations he found himself in. As those situations cannot be replicated today, that particular course of action is no longer applicable to us. This is important to defeat the Jihadis who are using these verses as weapons of war to brainwash our youth and turn them into human bombs.

3. That Islam is not the exclusivist religion that the Petrodollar Islam is preaching. It is a religion of co-existence encapsulated in the verse lakum deenakum waleya deen (For you be your religion and for me mine). It is also the religion of La Ikraha fid Deen (There can be no compulsion in religion.)

4. That the Sufi saints who brought Islam to this sub-continent and to the entire South-East Asia are not, God forbid, religious deviants as Petrodollar Islam proclaims them to be. It is because of them that we are Muslim today. It is they who gave us access to the teachings of Islam. It is not wrong for Muslims to show reverence to them along with people belonging to other communities.

5. That Islam itself teaches us Ijtihad, rethinking, so that we can adjust to the newer realities of changing times. We have to rethink every postulate of Islam in the light of today’s realities.

6. That religious freedom is indivisible. If we as a minority community need freedom, it becomes our duty to also fight for the religious freedom of minorities in Muslim lands, particularly in the Indian sub-continent. It is shameful that when two Sikhs were recently beheaded in Peshawar, reportedly for refusing to convert to Islam under compulsion, our ulema remained completely silent. We have been completely unmindful of the plight of religious minorities in both Pakistan and Bangladesh while enjoying full citizenship rights in our country. This must change.

Let us pray that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s doctrine of Wahdat-e-Deen once again gains converts. Let us try to flesh out and translate into reality Swami Vivekamad’s vision quoted before: “I see in my mind’s eye the future perfect India rising out of this chaos and strife, glorious and invincible, with Vedanta brain and Islam body.” In order to be ready to become a part of the Vivekanad project, however, the Islam body will have to rid itself of the many viruses it is harbouring in its system today. -- Sultan Shahin

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