Books and Documents

The War Within Islam

A call aimed at a generation brought up on the historical and ideological narratives manufactured by some in the military and theocratic elites. Why then was Hamid hounded out from a state-owned university but was successful in finding a more receptive audience at private colleges and universities? The answer to this is not all that complex. All these groups are largely political in orientation with controversial histories in which each played a leading role in various democratic movements but at the same time also got embroiled in some serious violence. History has not been very kind to them as far as the new generation of Pakistanis is concerned; most simply see these groups as thugs. This is also the generation that in the last 15 years has opted to join the many new privately-owned universities and colleges that do not allow conventional Pakistani student political groups to operate.-- Nadeem F. Paracha


THE cold, calculated assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, federal minister for religious minorities, in Islamabad yesterday is yet another blow to the idea of Jinnah’s Pakistan. Mr Bhatti’s killers may have escaped the scene of the crime, but the real culprit is known to all: an extremist mindset that has, with the sponsorship of some institutions of the state, spread far and wide in Pakistani society. The tragic irony of a country created to protect the rights of a minority — Muslims in unified India — turning into a killing field for those standing up for the rights of minorities evokes a deep sense of pathos and helplessness. Yet, the second high-profile killing in less than two months in Islamabad linked to the issue of the country’s blasphemy laws raises at least two hard questions. -- Editorial in Dawn, Karachi


Pakistan is not the only Muslim country that is facing this siege within. Extremism has emerged as a serious, if not the greatest, threat to Muslim societies everywhere.  Of course, we can go on endlessly debating the historical, political and social factors responsible for the phenomenon. Which we have done for far too long without getting anywhere. It’s about time we came up with some effective steps and concrete action to take on extremism — and those who cling to it as their way of life — head on. ...

Extremism, rampant crime and gun culture are eating into the vitals of the South Asian country that also happens to be a nuclear state. Everything is falling apart. This doesn’t have to be like this. If anyone can change this state of affairs, it is none but the Pakistanis themselves. A resilient and enterprising lot, they have proved time and again they could achieve anything if they put their mind to it.  It’s time to rediscover that fighting spirit of Pakistan to win this war on extremism. -– Editorial in Arab News

Also: Editorial responses from Pakistani and Indian newspapers

Barelvi Mullah says Every Pakistani is KAFIR

Fatwa ka Bazar by M.A.N.

 Maulana Tariq Jameel firing on Shia and Deobandi "beghairat, " "sab se ganda hai phir bhi sunni kahklata hai.". "Sahaba-e-Huzoor Salam are kafir "(Nauzbillah). "Shia and Deobandi are both kafir. But the bigger Kafir is Deobandi, Shia at least proclaims he is not ahle sunnat, whereas Deobandis claim tobe ahle-sunnat."

Bara Kafir Deobandi hai. Wajibul Qatal (fit to be killed) hai, Aur is mein shak karne wala bhi wajibul qatal hai. (Deobandi is the bigger kafir and any one who doubts that is also kafir and  fit to be killed like the Deobandis.)


Maulana Tahirul Qadri firing on Deobandis: sab kafir hain. Wahhabis are Murtad, kafir, kuttay, dogs,  terrorist, lanati, Yazidi, kerbala kay terrorist, Muslim mamalik kay badshah dallay, brokers and prostitutes. Listen to  Moulvi Syed Irfan Shah Ashadi.

The media has been lending almost tacit support to the currency of intolerance. The country, already battered by bloody terrorist onslaughts, is being further forced to fend off the fury and fanaticism of some hitherto apparently silent segments that have infiltrated into the most treasured security shields

The shock, sorrow and anger that stormed the nation after Salmaan Taseer’s assassination brought home stark realities to highlight the unbridled intolerance, fanaticism and obsession that seem set to obliterate the slightest dissent from the obscurantist notions of faith, conduct and behaviour. The widespread condemnation, mourning, memorial messages, vigils, candle-lighting, processions and protest rallies to vent love, reverence, grief and concern were in perfect order. However, far more potent and concerted steps are needed to reorient the maverick mindset and the attitudes that have abysmally sunk into some circles to enable them to act as self-styled vigilantes, judges, jurists and executioners. -- Elf Habib

Deoband: War of the Mullahs
Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com

From what these Deobandi Maulvis are alleging about the men behind the anti-Vastanvi campaign—fellow Deobandi Maulvis, led by the Madni gang that has monopolized the Deoband Madrasa for decades—one thing is clear: that for many mullahs, religion and religious institutions are simply tools to feather their own nests and to whip up the support of the credulous by projecting themselves as pious defenders of the faith. As rival factions of the Deobandi mullah community continue to battle each other, the sordid role of the 'secular' Congress Party in backing the most obscurantist sections of the mullahs, as represented by the Madni clique, is also becoming increasingly evident.  Needless to say, in this symbiotic nexus, the common Muslims, sacrificial victims of the machinations of political parties and the mullahs, have everything to lose, even the faint glimmer of hope for educational empowerment that Vastanvi's appointment had appeared to promise. -- Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com

Deoband: Smash These Idols
Arshad Alam, NewAgeIslam.com
Deoband: Smash These Idols
Arshad Alam for NewAgeIslam.com

Let me add a caveat here. I am not arguing that Vastanwi will or would have brought some kind of a revolutionary change in the seminary. The politics of Deoband -- its being antithetical to lived Islamic traditions and therefore anti-pluralism--will continue irrespective of Vastanwi or anyone else. Yet there are three important reasons why I think Vastanwi should be allowed to continue as the rector of Deoband. The first is that even piecemeal reformist change within the institution is welcome and Vastanwi had the potential as well as the experience to do that. The second is that he symbolizes a wider Muslim discontent over the fact that a large number of important Muslim institutions have been monopolized by few prominent Muslim families and individuals. The third and related reason is that Vastanwi comes from the Islamic periphery and by his mere presence makes Muslim politics more inclusive. His presence is a signal that the fate of Indian Muslims need not be tied to the fate of feudal and decrepit UP Muslim elite.     

 Signals are that Vastanwi would not give up without a fight. It is great news that a section of students and teachers have rallied behind him. If this is a sign of internal churning within Muslims for meaningful change, then it is most welcome. Muslims in the Arab world have had enough of their dictators. It is time Indian Muslims in general and Deoband students in particular start articulating a similar demand and start smashing the living idols within their community. -- Arshad Alam for NewAgeIslam.com


Earlier, peaceful meetings were held by supporters of Maulana Vastanvi in Saharanpur and elsewhere. Clearly, though Madanis and Qasmis have ruled the roost in Deoband for over a century, an outsider like Maulana Vastanvi too has supporters in the Saharanpur area for his agenda of change. Indeed, the Maulana has been a member of the Shoura for the last 18 years. But opening fire in a meeting being held by the Qasmi groups of ulema of Darul Uloom allegedly by Maulana Vastanvi’s supporters, if true, deserves severe condemnation.

The powers-that-be at Deoband are not going to leave their power and privilege so easily. They have been in politics for long and like other politicians they too must have supporters with arms and ammunition. Majlis-e-Shoura should not give more time to mischief mongers from either group to succeed in inflicting damage to Darul Uloom and call its meeting as soon as possible and take a decision once and for all to prevent the situation from going out of hand. The firing should stir the Majlis-e-Shoura into action or it may be too late. The battle should not enter the third round: death and bloodshed. - New Age Islam Edit Desk

Are all Ahaadith authentic?
A. Faizur Rahman, NewAgeIslam.com

At a recent Islamic conference held in Chennai, a hardcore Salafi scholar spewed venom at the munkireen-e-ahaadith (the rejectors of  hadiths). “These people” he said, “claim that if a Hadith goes against the Quran or common sense, it should be rejected” thereby giving the impression that all hadiths are to be followed in their entirety without subjecting them to intellectual scrutiny. Short of inciting his captive audience to lynch the munkireen-e-ahaadith this so-called scholar heaped all the expletives in his vocabulary against them and demanded that Muslims shun these “enemies of Islam.”  It therefore becomes imperative to discuss further the place of Ahaadith (sing., Hadith) in Islamic law and also in the lives of Muslims.

In a nutshell a hadith may be defined as a report concerning the sayings and the doings of the Prophet Muhammad which has reached us through a chain of narrators. The Quran described the Prophet as the Muallim (teacher) of Allah's Book and its Wisdom and as such his sayings and doings constitute an exposition of the philosophy of the Quran. This also means that no Prophetic saying or deed can go against the Quran, for how could the Messenger violate the very Message he brought? But what if there are Ahaadith which contradict the Quran? Of course they need to be questioned and their authenticity examined because it is possible such traditions may have wrongly attributed to the Prophet what he did not say or do. Muslim scholars have rejected several Aahaadith on this basis without their Eeman or motives being questioned. Therefore, it must be understood that rejection of questionable Ahaadith does not amount to the rejection of the Prophet. It only amounts to a rejection of unreliable reports wrongly attributed to our beloved Prophet. -- A. Faizur Rahman, NewAgeIslam.com

Rapidly altering levels of aspiration over the past two decades have impacted the minorities as much as anyone else. Old inhibitory factors have been blown away by new pulls: opportunity, hopes for a better life for younger people, the unspoken comfort provided by a fairly long spell of governance without needing to debate or fortify themselves from destructive elements on the right. There have been pushes too: for example, the collapse of traditional crafts (which Muslims have depended upon in clusters) has forced people out of old networks. Government largesse has been more innovative; scholarships, bicycles, housing loans, education opportunities and a promise of more, even in BJP-ruled states, have expanded the space for the Indian Muslim. The virtual collapse of Pakistan as an ideal Islamic state (with Shia-Sunni conflicts and Hanafi-Wahhabi strife tearing the country apart, making even offering prayers in mosques a risky proposition) has also sobered down those who may have secretly yearned for the comfort of being “there”. -- Seema Chishti

Faith — mosque, temple or church — has been a traditional sanctuary of the people in their constant struggle against innumerable forms of autocracy and dictatorship that have been the tragedy of human history. The institutions of God provide a comfort zone to the individual persecuted by institutions of man, particularly during moments of distress. Faith is often a symbol of resistance, as autocratic Arab regimes are discovering today when the streets are finally alive with the thunder of long-overdue protest against smug dictatorships that confused their harsh intelligence services with intelligence...

Deoband is often demonized by a Western-influenced discourse. Yes, there is a fringe that has converted Deoband into a fatwa factory for regressive pronouncements; and some of its influences have been distorted to justify violence. But every great centre of education produces a few children who dishonour their intellectual parent. Deoband is a tremendous resource for those Muslims who do not have the advantage of birth or lineage. It is the hope and dream not only of those who want to serve Allah through the mosque, but also young men who see in its educational repository a chance for a better life. The place it commands in the affections of Muslims makes Deoband a power centre; and where there is power, there will be politics. What we are seeing at the moment is a political battle between factions, and the vested interests that feed off them, for the control of Deoband. -- M J Akbar

Deoband Stir: History Repeats Itself
Shakil Khan, NewAgeIslam.com

It is not that the Deoband madrasa is new to such petty politics, being used as a tool to promote the political designs of certain mullahs who claim to speak for Islam and for all the Muslims of India. What Arshad Madani and Mahmood Madani are being accused of doing today is in itself nothing novel. Indeed, they appear to be faithfully following in the footsteps of the late Asad Madani, the man behind a similar controversy in the Deoband  as we are witness to today, that caused a major split in the madrasa which still remains unhealed after more than three decades. That controversy, and the deadly politics behind it, bears eerie parallels with the current anti-Vastanvi agitation, showing the depths that self-styled religious ‘leaders’ can stop for the sake of power and pelf. -- Shakil Khan, NewAgeIslam.com

Photo: Maulana Mahmood Madani

The Ahl-e Hadith and the Shias are inveterate foes, each insisting that their own brand of Islam is the only authentic one, branding the other as not just heretics but even as ‘enemies of Islam’ and as wholly outside the Muslim fold. But they are one on the status of the Deobandis, whom they regard as hardly proper Muslims at all. In turn, the Deobandis virulently castigate both the Ahl-e Hadith and the Shias as deviants and even worse. Deobandi mullahs have written dozens of tomes and have issued innumerable fatwas denouncing the Ahl-e Hadith as a dangerous fitna or source of un-Islamic strife, and, therefore, as hardly Muslim. Many Deobandis regard Shias as not just non-Muslims but even as vociferous ‘enemies of Islam’. Ahl-e Hadith and Shia clerics hold similar views about the Deobandis. Given this, some critics are now asking why it is that these two Urdu papers, one run by men affiliated to the Ahl-e Hadith, and the other by a group of Shias, are leading the anti-Vastanvi campaign and are fiercely backing his opponents—specifically, the Madni family that has been treating the Deoband madrasa as its fiefdom for decades, with the blessings of the Congress Party. Is it not curious, they point out, that in order to oust Vastanvi, these two Urdu papers are even projecting the Deoband madrasa as the world’s ‘leading centre’ of Islamic learning, and are fiercely backing Vastanvi’s contenders for the post of rector in order, so they claim, to defend the madrasa and the Deobandi sect, although the Muslim sects that the owners of these papers are affiliated with are vociferously opposed to the Deobandis? Is it not bizarre that all this is happening despite the fact that their own sects and brands of Islam have been consistently condemned as deviant and even worse by the mullahs of Deoband? Daal mai zaroor kuch kala hai, they insist. -- Shakil Khan, NewAgeIslam.com

LAST Sunday, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement ( MQM) urged the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of the doubling of crime in Punjab province and recommended that the army should take control of the province. Not so long ago, the MQM chief, Altaf Hussain, who is ensconced in the safety of London, had exhorted Pakistanis to launch a “ bloody revolution” to overthrow the feudal ruling classes. Indeed, he had gone so far as to say that “ patriotic generals” should step in to save the country once again...

Therefore the less said about the MQM’s demand for “ patriotic generals”, “ bloody revolutions” and “ martial laws”, the better. It is part of the MQM’s tactics to keep its powder dry in a potential election year. It is desperate to extend its vote bank in rural Sindh and get a toehold in Punjab, which is why it is railing against General Sales Tax on services ( biggest impact in Karachi) and demanding tax on agricultural incomes of big landlords ( in Sindh and Punjab). -- Najam Sethi

Dr. Zakir Naik: New Target of Mullah Ire
Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com

Qasmi’s major grouse against Dr. Zakir Naik is what he regards as the latter’s temerity of interpreting the Quran on his own. The Quran describes itself as a book for the whole of humankind. It has been translated into numerous languages, and, therefore, is easily accessible to and understandable by ‘ordinary’ folk. One does not need to be a trained religious scholar, spending a dozen-odd or even more years in a madrasa, in order to understand it. In fact, the Quran stridently condemns priests and religious intermediaries, whose claims to authority rest on their supposed expertise in understanding the scriptures, and who routinely misuse this ‘expertise’ to mislead the gullible. Yet, the mullahs insist that they alone are qualified to interpret the Quran. This in itself is hardly surprising: after all, it is on this claim that their authority and the special position that they demand for themselves in Muslim society rest. Naturally, therefore, they are wary of non-mullahs interpreting the Quran on their own, not hesitating to denounce those who do so, and who interpret it in ways distinct from theirs, as heretics and even apostates.

To shore up his claim that the mullahs alone have the right to interpret the Quran, Qasmi insists that one needs expertise in ‘seventeen kinds of religious sciences’ (which he curiously leaves unnamed) in order to be qualified to interpret the scripture. Presumably, these ‘religious sciences’ are taught only in the madrasas, and, therefore, only the mullahs have knowledge of them all. Since Naik lacks knowledge of these ‘sciences’, he suggests, he has no right to interpret the Quran on his own in any manner that departs from the interpretation of the mullahs. -- Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com

Photo: Islam-supremacist Televangelist from Ahl-e-Hadees sect  Dr. Zakir Naik


THE DEBATE on the “contentious” statement made by the Darul Uloom Deoband’s newly appointed rector, Maulana Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi, it seems, is dying down after his offer to step down. However, the manner in which this episode has been interpreted and analysed, especially by the media and political elite, raises a few fundamental questions about our awareness of the complex religious identities of Muslim communities and their practices of secularism. Let me begin with the actual incident. In a news report based on an interview, Vastanvi was quoted as saying that all communities “are prospering in Gujarat” and there was “no discrimination against the minorities in the state as far as development was concerned”. Although Vastanvi did not give a clean chit to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in this interview on the 2002 pogrom, he stressed that it was now time to move on. -- Hilal Ahmed

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan on the Blasphemy Controversy
Translated by Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com

In the wake of the dastardly killing of Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, the controversy over the anti-blasphemy law in Pakistan continues to rage. Is this law really ‘Islamic’, as many ‘Islamic’ organizations and their leaders insist? Does Islam indeed lay down death for blasphemers? In 1997, the New Delhi-based noted Indian Islamic scholar, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, published a book on the subject of blasphemy, being a compilation of a number of articles he had penned in the wake of the Satanic Verses controversy.  The book, in Urdu, was titled Shatm-e Rasul ka Masla, Quran wa Hadith aur Fiqh wa Tarikh ki Roshni Mein (The Question of Blasphemy Against the Prophet in the Light of the Quran, Hadith, Fiqh and History). The book raises numerous issues that are pertinent to ongoing debates about the anti-blasphemy law in Pakistan today. Below are some excerpts translated from the book by Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com.


Muslim clerics distort Quranic verses to suit their purpose



Deep-rooted and rigid deeni-duniyavi dualism in the Mullah mindset needs to be corrected

Ill-founded conspiracy theories that the mullahs and likeminded folks spin are often simply a convenient ruse to deny the culpability of some Muslims or mullahs in the problems that they are forced to face, as well as a convenient way to clamp down on legitimate critique and internal dissent. Often, they indicate a stubborn refusal to recognize that Muslims or the mullahs, are in large measure, to blame for many of their own problems, and that many of these are actually self-created. They also do nothing whatsoever to promote much-needed introspection. Often—certainly in the ongoing agitation over Vastanvi’s appointment—conspiracy theories that describe problems as having been created by menacing conspiratorial non-Muslim ‘others’ are invented and most aggressively propagated by those who are themselves to blame for creating these controversies. ...

If there is one lesson to be learnt from the ongoing sordid controversy centred on Vatsanvi, it is that there is an urgent need for a fundamental reform in the mullah mind-set, so that would-be mullahs can articulate socially-engaged, progressive and relevant understandings of their faith and provide sensible guidance about the duniya in order to truly serve the people they claim to lead. And, if that happens, we might be spared the ignorance that Vastanvi propagates when he spouts meaningless clichés praising Modi’s model of ‘development’, blissfully unaware of the harsh realities about this model’s many victims. We might also be spared the bizarre conspiracy theories that his fellow mullah critics are now so aggressively circulating and the wild intolerance that they are vigorously displaying in a bid to unseat him. -- Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com

The problem, it would seem, stems from Vastanvi’s desire to take Muslims out of the ghettos of economic and social backwardness without compromising their religious identity. As Vice-Chancellor, he has been stressing the importance of blending religious instruction with more meaningful study of ‘secular’ disciplines such as the sciences, medicine and management. Given the symbolic importance of Deoband to Muslims in the whole sub-continent, the curriculum shift in Darul Uloom is calculated to send a powerful reformist message to the whole community.

This may be welcome to most of India but the educational and economic empowerment of Muslims and their ability to compete on equal terms in the marketplace poses a potential threat to those who play broker between the Muslim masses and the political elite. As long as Muslims are nervous, defensive, educationally backward and hark back wistfully to a lost court culture in Awadh and the Deccan, they need the services of those who can leverage their significant electoral clout for advantage. The last thing these political middlemen need is an atmosphere of calm bereft of both loony Islamists and loony Hindus, where people can go about their primary mission in life: Self-improvement.

By questioning a fundamental tenet of this contrived tension, Vastanvi has been guilty of the gravest ‘secular’ offence. He has argued that Muslims are normal Indians, driven by the same urges and aspirations of everyone else. He has, in fact, actually challenged Islamophobia in a nuanced fashion. But he has also threatened the rozi-roti of the merchants of fear. If their assault on him is successful, it may bolster many of the worst stereotypes of the Muslim community. -- Swapan Dasgupta

The brutal murder of the Pakistani leader Salman Taseer for daring to question his country’s draconian blasphemy law which lays down death for insulting the Prophet Mohammad has ignited furious debate as to whether or not Islam prescribes this extreme punishment for such an act. Predictably, as on many other issues, there seems to be no unanimity among Muslims themselves on this question. While Islamist and mullah ideologues insist that Islam demands death for traducers of the Prophet, liberal Muslim scholars, relying on the same texts as their opponents, stoutly deny that this is so. --Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com

Deoband’s Internecine War Takes a New Turn
Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com

The fate of Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi, the newly-elected vice-chancellor (muhtamim) of India’s largest madrasa, the Dar ul-Uloom at Deoband, hangs in the balance as a storm of protest gathers momentum against a controversial remark that he made some days ago. Vastanvi may not have provided an unqualified ‘clean-chit, as his detractors allege, to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in an interview given to the Times of India, but by appearing to overlook the various forms of discrimination that Muslims in Gujarat continue to labour under and by even going so far to naively claim that Muslims were prospering unhindered under Modi’s rule, Vastanvi committed a major goof-up. Although he subsequently issued an apology, his remarks set off a loud chorus of protest in his own Deobandi circles.

Vastanvi’s remarks about Modi are now being added to by a host of other allegations levelled by his opponents among his fellow Deobandi mullahs, including rivals for the post of vice-chancellor of the Deoband madrasa, to further galvanise the movement for his dismissal from his new post. One such allegation, which an influential section of the Urdu press has quickly lapped up and is now highlighting with much exaggeration, sensation and alarm, is that Vastanvi is ‘guilty’ of the sin of ‘distributing idols’. Since idolatry is a heinous sin in Islam, this charge very directly questions Vastanvi’s credentials as a sincere Muslim to make him out to be simply unfit for the job as the head of the world’s most influential madrasa. This allegation has even prompted Vastanvi’s critics to approach important Islamic organizations in India affiliated to the Deobandi school of thought for a fatwa on the matter. The fatwas they  received, condemning the act of ‘distributing idols’ (without mentioning Vastanvi’s name), have been widely publicised in some sections of the Urdu press and is being added to Vastanvi’s remarks about Modi to further press the demand for his immediate resignation. -- Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com

Photo: Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi, the newly-elected vice-chancellor (muhtamim) of India’s largest madrasa, the Dar ul-Uloom at Deoband.

Unabated Karachi killings
Editorial in Daily Mail News, Islamabad

THE current wave of target killings, which has been continuing since Thursday last, has so far claimed 30 precious lives. Despite deployment of heavy contingents of Rangers and police and search operation in sensitive areas, the killing continues unabated. With the growing incidents of killings, the political leaders have once again demanded of the government to hand over the city to army for curbing the menace. Unfortunately, it has been reported that the law enforcing agencies, including the police and the Rangers, remained silent spectators to firing by people, who not only targeted people on public transport but also when they walked the street.It is because of this that claims are being made that the government is involved and is sponsoring these killings as part of a grand design to obtain political benefits. The head honcho of the Sindh Interior ministry, who is supposed to be responsible for the security of the lives and properties of the citizens, Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, has already laid the blame squarely at the doorstep of his party’s partner in the Sindh coalition, the MQM, for being behind the target killings. ---Editorial in Daily Mail News, Islamabad

In the Islamic scriptures, the Quran and the Hadith, there is no such injunction to deliver physical punishment to one who commits blasphemy. This law was only made during the Abbasid period and is an expression of the imperatives of that period. At that time, the Muslims had established their empire and were in political supremacy. Due to their sense of pride at having accomplished this, they made such a law. But it was a clear innovation. And according to the Hadith, every innovation in the religion of Islam must needs be rejected. ...

Moreover, meting out punishment is the prerogative of an established court and not of any individual or non-governmental organisation. According to Islam, if anyone commits a crime, his case will be referred to a court established by law and, after completing the required judicial proceedings, the judge will give his verdict. And then it is only for the authorised police to implement the court order, not any civilian. The whole scheme of Islam is based on the process of peaceful dialogue. In a verse of the Quran, God Almighty gives this injunction to the Prophet: "So, [O Prophet] remind them: your task is only to remind, you are not over them a warden." (88:21-22)

This is the standard Islamic response to problems, and the case of blasphemy is certainly no exception. Muslims must, therefore, exhort people in a friendly manner. They must try to change their hearts and minds. It must be borne in mind that the Quran is not a criminal code; it is a book of persuasion. So Muslims must deal with such cases by reasoning and not by meting out punishment. -- Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Janab Maulana Ilyas Qadri Saheb,

We are unable to restrain ourselves from writing to you with regard to the recent killing of Mr. Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab (Pakistan), because it is learnt that the man allegedly responsible for this killing is a cadre of your organization Dawate-islami (jamat).

 We would like to request you to ponder if this is in conformity with the teachings of Islam and the path which prophet has shown us. We reproduce below some verses of the na’t, describing prophet’s personality, which we have heard on your channel several times

Salaam us par ke jis ney khoon key pyason ko qabain deen

Salaam us par ke jis ney gaaliyaan sun kar duaien deen

Salaam us par ke asrare mohabbat jis ney sikhlaeen

Salaam us par ke jis ney  zakhm khaa kar phool barsaey

Salaam us par ke jo majruh huaa bazaar-e tayef mein …

 The person responsible for the killing seems to be the anti-thesis of the above-mentioned aspects of the greatest personality ever born on this earth.

I am pained that those claiming to be Muslim are responsible for, and have rejoiced, the heinous murder, whereas the true followers of Islam ought to condemn this brutal killing. We demand that you apologize to the family members of late Salman Taseer on behalf of your organization. In order not to tarnish the image of Islam, Prophet and Sufis, we request you to renounce the politics of murder and mayhem in their name.-- Signatories to the open letter


Mass hypocrisy is often an expression of deep-rooted societal contradictions rather than being an intrinsic or absolute condition. Situating these contradictions in their structural and historical context is vital to finding the way out of this unending morass

Many in the aftermath of the January 4 tragedy have struggled to understand the mindset of a section of supporters of Salmaan Taseer’s murderer, Mumtaz Qadri. The reaction of the religious right was, of course, all too easy to explain away for many; those who make religion an instrument of political gain will necessarily use this event to stoke religious fervor and gain the political space/popularity they so desire. But what of the reaction of our educated middle class? What of the reaction of those students, lawyers, engineers, doctors, and the rest of the internet/armchair mujahideen who have shocked many observers by condoning and celebrating this tragedy? Those whose interests, mannerisms and habits wreak of globalised modernity, in all its capitalist glory, yet whose opinions seem more reflective of some despotic medieval rage? Those who consume ‘decadent’ American and Indian popular culture (the provocateur extraordinaire Lady Gaga and besmirched ‘munni’ often coming up as favorites), imbibe ‘immoral’ intoxicants, pursue ‘illicit’ sexual dalliances and concomitantly celebrate the ‘aashiq-e-rasool’, Mumtaz Qadri, without skipping a beat?

At one level, it is easy to dismiss these middle class cadres as hypocrites of the worst grade imaginable, and one would not be amiss in stating so. But, in terms of explanatory depth, this denunciation is of little value. Mass hypocrisy is often an expression of deep-rooted societal contradictions rather than being an intrinsic or absolute condition. Situating these contradictions in their structural and historical context is vital to finding the way out of this unending morass--- Ammar Rashid

Writing in The Telegraph, London, Delhi- based novelist Aatish Taseer, assassinated Pakistan Punjab governor Salman Taseer’s eldest son, mourns his death —and the nihilism of acountry that could not tolerate a patriot who was humanitarian to the core

I have recently flown home from America. In airport after international airport, the world’s papers carried front page images of my father’s assassin.

A 26-year-old boy, with a beard, a forehead calloused from prayer, and the serene expression of a man assured of some higher reward. Last Tuesday, this boy, hardly older than my youngest brother whose 25th birthday it was that day, shot to death my father, the governor of Punjab, in a market in Islamabad.

My father had always taken pleasure in eluding his security, sometimes appearing without any at all in open-air restaurants with his family, but in this last instance it would not have mattered, for the boy who killed him was a member of his security detail.

It appears now that the plan to kill my father had been in his assassin’s mind, even revealed to a few confidants, for many days before he carried the act to its fruition. And it is a great source of pain to me, among other things, that my father, always brazen and confident, had spent those last few hours in the company of men who kept a plan to kill him in their breasts.

The last time I met or spoke to my father was — it seems hard to believe now — the night three years ago that Benazir Bhutto was killed. We had been estranged for most of my life, and just before he died we were estranged for a second time. I was the son of my Indian mother, with whom my father had a year-long relationship in 1980. In my childhood and adolescence, when he was fighting General Zia’s dictatorship alongside Bhutto, and was in and out of jail, I had not known him--- Aatish Taseer

Photo: Supporters chant slogans in favour of Mumtaz Qadri, alleged killer of Punjab governor Salman Taseer

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