Books and Documents

The War Within Islam

Why Should Any Muslim Object To Pranab Mukherjee Attending An Ahmadiya Convention?
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
Why Should Any Muslim Object To Pranab Mukherjee Attending An Ahmadiya Convention?
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

New Age Islam has received a press release from some organisation called Shariath Protection Council based in Chennai that says, inter alia: ... “But if the Hon’ble Minister (the Union Finance Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee) intends to interact with Qadianis, taking them to be Muslims, then it is incumbent on the Council to correct his wrong assumption and to make known that, his participation in the said Convention, despite their protests, will wound the sentiments of Muslims, as a result of which Muslims will cease to take his Party as their ally.”

I would have thought that we Indian Muslims are not Pakistanis and that we have not declared Ahmadis non-Muslim. In our view anyone is a Muslim who says la ilaha illallah Muhammadur rasoolullah (There is no god other than the one God and Muhammad is his prophet) and Ahmadis do that. Indeed, I had the personal experience of seeing their love for Prophet Mohammad and belief in his finality as a law-bearing prophet when I spent a few years in Suriname, South America where the majority of Muslims are Ahmadis. They differentiate between law-bearing prophets and people who are renewers of Islam (mujaddedeen) coming every new century or so and who are inspired by God to say things that they didn’t know they had in themselves.

Yes, some Ahmadis do call Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani Saheb a prophet, albeit a non-law-bearing prophet below the status of law-bearing prophets like Muhammad, Jesus, Moses, Buddha, Ram or Krishna, etc. We have our differences with them and of course, the majority of mainstream Muslims do not agree with them. Indeed many Ahmadis, the so-called Lahori group of Ahmadis, led by as great a scholar of Islam as Maulana Mohammad Ali, too do not agree with them and merely consider Mirza Saheb a mujaddid (renewer of Islam). Indeed if we go by the logic of Ahmadis we would have to consider not only Mirza Saheb but also people like Ghalib, Iqbal, Shakespeare, Keats, Einstein, etc. as prophets. These people were indubitably inspired to say things that they did not know the source of. They only knew that they did not know the things they said in a clearly altered state of mind – in some cases like that of Ghalib, for instance, an altered state of mind produced by the influence of liquor. Similarly, some of them consider Mirza Saheb a reincarnation of Jesus Christ who is supposed to come back at the end of history. I am sure many Qadianis themselves consider this rather absurd.

Yet, come to think of it, the difference is minor and more terminological. With Lahori group of Ahmadis, of course, there should be no difference at all. There have been several mujaddids in Islam and all of us do not have to go by their interpretations. We can just ignore them. After all, the main source of Islam is the Holy Quran and all Muslim sects abide by that, though there may be differences in interpretations. The difference with Ahmadis has turned into a deep and seemingly unbridgeable chasm. It happened like this. The Mullahs who had opposed the creation of Pakistan wanted a place for themselves in the politics of Pakistan once it got created. They latched on to the issue of a section of Ahmadis considering Mirza Saheb a prophet of sorts for the revival of their own political fortunes. They started riots against Ahmadis. The political leaders of so-called moderate, mainstream Muslims did not have the gumption to oppose their murderous activities. And finally decades later an ‘enlightened’ Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the then Prime Minister, succumbed to fundamentalist pressure and in the hope of gaining some political mileage with the ‘Islamist” marauders, at a very difficult time when he was engaged in a battle for political survival, declared the group non-Muslim. But it is important to remember that before Bhutto, who was executed by Islamists for being a murderer declared them non-Muslim under their pressure, the Ahmadis were a bona fide group of Muslims even in Pakistan, as, of course, they are in other parts of the world.

I have always thought that we Indian Muslims, benefiting as we do from the composite spiritual ambience of multi-religious, multi-cultural India, are a different breed of Muslims than our brothers who have the misfortune to live in ‘Islamist’ Pakistan. But then come along statements like the one quoted above and it becomes clear that there are some among us who would have preferred to live in the spiritual disaster that is called Pakistan. They too would have probably liked to blow themselves up for the sake of bombing other Muslims praying in mosques around the country on account of minor ideological differences.

That a top leader of the Congress party is attending an Ahmadi convention is good news. We mainstream Muslims, both Sunnis and Shias have ideological differences not only with Ahmadis but also with every other Muslim. Every Muslim Mullah considers every Muslims other than his own followers a Kafir. Kafir-manufacturing factories are the most productive in the Muslim world. Indeed Muslims do not have any other manufacture worth the name. No two Mullahs agree on the definition of a Muslim. Ask Justice Munir of Pakistan who investigated the bloody anti-Ahmadia riots in Pakistan of the 1950s:

Backgrounder: The Mullah and the Munir Report




For Deobandis and other Wahhabis even a Muslim who doesn’t show up for a Friday prayer should have his throat slit. Should non-Muslim Indian politicians then stop meeting Muslims who do not go for Friday prayers?

Why should this sickness of the Muslim community stop a non-Muslim political leader interact with Muslims whose views on the issues of the moment are most logical, suited to the times and in harmony with the spirit of Islam, even if we have some theological differences with them? Mirza Saheb interpreted Islam a century ago. Our Mullahs go by the interpretation given several hundred years ago or even a thousand years ago or more. Why should some of us threaten Pranab Mukherjee with the entire Muslim community not taking “his party as an ally” after this? This is totally absurd and irresponsible. What is this Shariath Protection Council that is bent upon the destruction of our syncretic Islam here in India? Or how representative of the Muslim community is Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam of Punjab, that I understand, is also running a campaign against Mr. Mukherjee’s visit? Who are the people behind this? What gives them the right to speak on behalf of the entire Indian Muslim community?

Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

Iran poses an existential threat, not because it still projects itself as a revolutionary state but simply by what it is, the assets it can bring to bear and the intrinsic challenge it poses. But equally existential is the fact that Wahhabism is likely to increasingly become a domestic and external liability for the Al Sauds. Their future is clouded in uncertainty, no more so if and when they lose Wahhabism as the basis for the legitimacy of their absolute rule.

Jamiat-ul-Ulema Knows It Cannot Push Muslim Women Back Into Burqas
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
Jamiat-ul-Ulema Knows It Cannot Push Muslim Women Back Into Burqas
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

Cover up operation

It is natural for many to feel that the latest pronouncements from Deoband will push women further inside their dark holes. It will take the community back five centuries. But rather than arousing such fears, the panicky ranting of maulanas gives me hope. It would appear that they have heard the news. Muslim women are on the move. They are revolting even in the tiniest of towns.

Making use of the Islamic provision of choice given to them in the Koran, an increasing number of Muslim girls are refusing to marry boys of their parents' choice. They are even contemplating and a few succeeding, with sometimes fatal consequences, in eloping with boys of their choice. In many cases parents and the society at large has to accept their choices. In some cases the girls are even contemplating elopement with boys of other faiths. ...

I asked one girl who was planning to elope with a Hindu boy, if she was aware that, being a Hindu her friend was ahl-e-Kitab, and she could marry him even under the provisions of Islamic Sharia. This girl of a UP town of just 2 lakh was knowledgeable enough to tell me that was not the case. Only Muslim boys can marry ahl-e-Kitab girls under the Islamic provision.

I told her that this provision had been made at a time when girls couldn't stand on their own; but now you are an earning professional and will be able to fight for your right to follow the religion of your choice, so how would that Islamic provision apply to you today. She said she had never heard such "rational nonsense" and that the only way out for her was to elope and hope that she or her husband doesn't get killed by their relatives. In her view even a loving invitation for reception to celebrate their marriage could prove fatal, so she won't fall for it.

The ulema are clearly rattled. This couldn't be happening. But it is.


-- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

Shameful, shocking, appalling are some of the words Muslims use across the country when faced with bloody fights for the possession of madrasa managements. In what he calls “a frank exposition”, Maulana Nadeemul Wajidee discusses the issue here but limits himself to criticising the greed and avarice of those who are fighting for control of madrasa managements. He seems to gloss over the ideological component of the clash.

The fact is, to put it rather crudely and simplistically, the small minority of Wahhabi members in a madrasa management are gradually becoming very vocal and even aggressive in their bid to take over madrasas, come what may. So far the mainstream Muslims, passive as ever like any other mainstream, used to take this in their stride and allow the change of Imams, for instance, to take place, without a fight. Now they too, taken aback by the aggression and violence inherent in the Wahhabi actions, are responding, though they are still confused about the why and wherefore of these clashes. Hence the overt clash.

The vast majority of Bareilwis, for instance, used to allow their Wahhabi neighbours to get Deobnandi Imams posted, without a murmur, unsuspecting of any foul play involved. India’s mainstream Islam, however, has before it the experience of Pakistan, where this shift took place, silently over decades, without people realising its import. The unsavoury events flowing from this development are making them quite apprehensive of what is in store for them if the Wahhabisation of Indian madrasas, indeed Indian Islam itself, already quite advanced, goes on at the present pace. As a Bareilly-based New Age Islam correspondent pointed out some time ago, this process is quite successful in Bareilly itself, a place which is considered a bastion of Bareilwi Islam, not to speak of other parts of the country.

Maulana Wajidee’s article published below (Translated by Raihan Nezami) is nevertheless a pointer to the disquiet that growing clashes for takeover of madrasa managements is causing across the board.

Sultan Shahin, editor, New Age Islam


The “magnificent Muslim culture” that Hoodbhoy and others like him in Pakistan and Bangladesh feel so nostalgic about was the outcome of Islam’s long, creative and mutually enriching interaction with undivided India. There were no doubt dark periods in this thousand-year-old history, when religious bigotry and tyranny sought to destroy India’s non-Muslim social and cultural fabric. But India survived, unlike ancient pre-Islamic civilisations in several Muslim countries. India and Islam influenced and changed each other in positive ways, which can be clearly seen in the distinctive “Indian” identity of Muslims in our subcontinent. Sadly, a renewed, petrodollar-driven attempt is now being made by the extremist interpreters of Islam in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries to bring the entire Muslim world under their exclusive control. Which is why, Pakistan is today fighting for its survival. If fears of “Khuda Hafiz, Pakistan” are to be allayed, Muslims in Pakistan must re-embrace Civilisational India. -- Sudheendra Kulkarni


The modern aspect of Islamic thought in Pakistan has its roots in the ‘Aligarh Movement’ – a nineteenth century effort launched by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.

His analysis convinced him that the Muslims of India had failed to come to grips with the new zeitgeist emerging from the rise of western colonialism – a power driven by breakthroughs in modern scientific thought and economics, and pragmatic politics based on rational and dispassionate self-interest, all of which stemmed from the many doctrines and socio-political upheavals witnessed in the West during the ‘Age of Reason/Enlightenment.’

Ahmed strived to reinterpret the teachings of Islam so they could be brought in harmony with modern science and philosophy, helping the educated Muslims to continue holding on to their religion but through a rational and enlightened view of life. -- Nadeem F. Paracha


In India, a strain of Islamic orthodoxy was sometimes in open conflict with Hinduism. But in Indonesia, the new faith sat comfortably atop a Hindu-Buddhist past. Like most Indians, and unlike the Arabs, most Indonesians continued to believe that there are many paths to God. Indeed, until recently, Indonesian Islam - steeped in a culture of music and mysticism - was synonymous with tolerance. By and large, the one-in-eight Indonesians who are Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or Animist, rarely faced discrimination, much less religious violence....

For Indians the drama unfolding in Indonesia is especially urgent because the conflict there is as much cultural as political, a battle between a native, deeply Indicized Islam and a strident Arab import. Over the past 30 years, Arab names have gradually edged out Sanskrit ones in kindergartens. Headscarves have mushroomed on college campuses. In offices, the greeting assalamu alaikum has become an alternative to the religiously neutral selamat pagi, or good morning. The traditional tiered-roof Javanese mosque has given way to the ubiquitous onion dome. For the first time, a generation of Javanese children is growing up unfamiliar with Arjuna and Bhima from the Mahabharata....

In universities throughout the archipelago, students congregate in mosques to study the writings of the Egyptian radical Sayyid Qutb, or to enrol in Hizbut Tahrir, another group banned in many countries for its call to unite all Muslims in a single superstate that recalls the Ottoman Caliphate. To be sure, only a fraction of orthodox Indonesian Muslims espouse violence, but that has been enough to make the past decade the bloodiest in the country's history since the anti-communist pogroms of the 1960s. Sadanand Dhume

“There is no compulsion in religion” (“La ikraaha fiddeen”), says the Quran. “Diversity of opinion in my ummah is a blessing from Allah,” said the Prophet. For the despots of Islam, however, not only is Islam the only true religion, “their Islam” is the only “true Islam”. No space for doubt, no question of choice.... It may seem like an ugly utopia for you and me. But to the hopelessly indoctrinated, a school in Mumbai, a village of bruised and battered Muslims in Gujarat, the Swat valley in Pakistan, a country named Afghanistan, or any social space big or small will do as a laboratory for the pursuit of their totalitarian fantasy. -- Javed Anand

Murky goings-on within the Jamiat-ul-ulema

‘You won’t spot a single modern-educated Muslim in this huge carnival’, said Faisal, the owner of a bookshop located adjacent to the Darul Uloom. ‘The maulvis shun them, not just because they don’t find them religious enough but also because they fear that they will challenge their hegemony’. He indicated the crowd surging past his shop. Their features, dress and mannerisms all revealed, he said, that they were all poor peasants, madrasa teachers or maulvis. ‘The maulvis have little or no understanding of the modern world, so how can they provide us Muslims with proper leadership?’, he continued. ‘But because the Muslim middle class remains indifferent to community issues, engrossed in their pursuit of material acquisition or simply too scared to speak out against the mullahs’ obscurantist views, the mullahs’ hold on the community continues unchallenged’. ‘That’s why lakhs of Muslims have so easily been mobilized by the Jamiat for this mela’. -- Yoginder Sikand, Islamic affairs analyst

Over 50 Muslim-majority countries have over the last fifty years managed to modernise and alter personal laws in tune with changing societal norms. Egypt has announced 12 per cent reservation for women in Parliament, Saudi Arabia is opening coeducation universities for science and technology, many Islamic countries have banned the “triple talaq” at one go and women are being educated — and incentivised to work in all sectors. Every madrasa or school outside the subcontinent follows a government-approved curriculum which includes modern life sciences. All these reforms have come from within the religious systems, as they have a larger chance of success. But our religious clergy is reluctant to move on such contemporary issues.

This politics of isolation is ill-fated in a multi-plural democracy like India. In the last sixty years the community has consistently slipped to the lowest rung of the knowledge and economic ladder, caught in a vicious trap the helps nobody but self-serving political and religious leaderships. A growing revulsion against such leadership is beginning to be apparent — especially in the present generation of young, educated Muslims whose sole aim is to be competitive and employed gainfully. -- Aijaz Ilmi

It is not right for any Muslim to advertise and propagate anything without scrutiny and exact knowledge of facts. This is what the Holy Quran and the Sunna preach and is only the demand of the faith. So far as the kalam (poetry) being sung in the Mahfil Samma` is concerned, there is a message of Oneness of Allah (monotheism) in the poetry; based on mysticism and spiritualism. We have so far clarified that Shaykh-ul-Islam neither liked the act of kissing his hands and feet nor ever encouraged it, leave alone falling in prostration before him. In his speeches and books, he has always dubbed the act of prostration for worship (sajda ibada) as polytheism (shirk) and prostration out of veneration (sajda tazim) for someone other than Allah as forbidden (haram). Two of his books namely Kitab at-Tawhid and Tazim and Ibada could be consulted in this regard along with his numerous lectures and speeches. But a question arises here whether the act of kissing feet could be taken to mean prostration? Is kissing of feet an act of polytheism (shirk)? What are Islamic teachings about it? It is important to note as what would be the view of Islamic law if someone kissed the feet in peculiar circumstances? -- Islamic Revival

What of the immediate regional pressures--how do the nearby countries' interests feed into the equation? One hears the usual talk that a military strike against Iran's nukes would cause a severe anti-U.S.-and-Israel backlash in the Muslim world. But in reality the Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt would welcome such a move, perhaps even abet the proceedings. Nothing scares the Sunni world more than a powerful Iran, not even Israel, because Tehran has the ability to undermine other nations from within wherever substantial Shiite populations exist or even where they don't--simply by appealing to Islamist, anti-Crusader and anti-Zionist sentiment on the street. An allied attack on Iran's nukes would spontaneously ignite just such instability with Islamic street sentiment running high in favor of Iran. But for the Sunni states, the price may be worth paying in the short term to weaken Iran over the long run. -- Melik Kaylan


Rapid fire with UK far-right party chief

The BNP’s support arises then from an anti-Muslim stance. The party has succeeded in channelling the anti-terrorist, anti-Islamist sentiment of the working class into an anti-Muslim political base. The main political parties, whose MPs are elected from several of these constituencies with significant Muslim populations, have taken very little heed of this particular development. Apart from these MPs, the British Muslim population ought to take serious note of it. The counter argument to the BNP’s poison has to encompass an absolute distinction between the positions and plans of Islamists and those of the Muslim communities of Britain. Such a distinction can only emerge dynamically from within the Muslim community itself and is long overdue. -- Farrukh Dhondy

In 1993, Mr. Omar began teaching Sufi-inspired religious classes in his home. Three years later, he moved into a two-story white school building, with a mosque attached. There are now about 700 students, at least half of them South Asians, with a rising number of Americans and Britons. Most of the students are between 18, the minimum age, and 25. … But even as the school grew, a more militant Islam was gaining followers across the region. Saudi Arabia, on Yemen’s northern border, was financing ultraconservative religious schools and scholars in an effort to shore up its influence here. In 1991 the Saudi king, angered by Yemen’s public support for Saddam Hussein, abruptly sent home a million Yemeni labourers, many of whom had lived in Saudi Arabia for decades and had been shaped by it. The Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, accommodated the Saudis and welcomed many Arab jihadists who had fought in Afghanistan. Later, he enlisted the jihadists to fight his political enemies at home, incurring a political debt that has complicated his efforts to fight Al Qaeda. -- Robert F. Worth


IRAN's Current Political Assessment: The torture and imprisonment of thousands, the killing of nearly 100 and rapes of many, and the mass trials of "key figures" many of whom were paradoxically the past pillars of the Islamic Republic's theocracy has intensified the resolved determination of the people for freedom and democracy, justice and transparency, accountability and reforms in an indigenous "Green Movement" that conjures up the mass elimination of dissidents and political prisoners of conscience of the Shah's and Khomeini's era of the 80's. No one can deny the adverse role of western hegemonies as evidenced by the annual spending of over $100 million dollars by the U.S. government alone for subversive and media based insurgencies, which has ironically impeded the people of Iran to achieve their goals, since the Iranian regime exploits this as a rationale for repressing their rights. -- Pirouz Azadi

Some ideologues, such as Isam Mohammed Taher al-Barqawi, more popularly known by the nom de guerre Abu-Muhammad Asem al-Maqdisi, have taken a clear stand against targeting “genuine” humanitarian organizations. In his writings, al-Maqdisi has specifically referred to the International Committee of the Red Cross, noting how it is a legitimate humanitarian organization with no hidden agenda and that its valuable services to the poor and dispossessed should be appreciated. However, many jihadist leaders do not differentiate between the political aspect of the United Nations and the separate organizations that operate under the aegis of the United Nations for humanitarian purposes, such as the WFP, UNHCR, UNDP and UNICEF. In addition to the Oct. 6 message from the TTP spokesman who noted that the WFP is an infidel organization that promotes the U.S. agenda, other jihadist leaders have also spoken out against the United Nations. In an April 2008 speech, al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri said, “The United Nations is an enemy of Islam and Muslims: It is the one which codified and legitimized the setting up of the state of Israel and its taking over of the Muslims’ lands.” Clearly, over the past year this ideological battle inside jihadist circles has been decided in favour of those who advocate attacks against humanitarian workers, since such attacks are increasing — and the problem is not just confined to Pakistan. -- Scott Stewart

People in such places cannot be dissuaded from fighting militarily until and unless there is also a new discourse on the other side regarding the solution of the problem. ... it goes without saying that there is a real need for a new discourse within the Muslim world on numerous issues starting from the concept of the state, war and peace to social norms and economic life. Historically, the Muslim world was progressive due to the independence of academic institutions when it came to arriving at new concepts. Even in the recent past institutions like Al Azhar in Egypt were to be taken note of for encouraging new ideas. However, it is also a fact that the formulation of ideas in the Muslim world has stopped or taken a peculiar direction as far as political thought is concerned. The bulk of the interpretation of religious texts has been driven by the post-colonial ethos of societies and thinkers. At this juncture, there is an urgent need in the Muslim world to think anew about a lot of issues, not to appease the West, but to contribute to the internal political discourse. Issues such as the link between religion and politics in an Islamic state or war and conflict involving a Muslim state, or the position of non-Muslims in an Islamic state are matters which require a rethink. -- Ayesha Siddiqa


Iranian Dissident Journalist Akbar Ganji Blasts Mass Trial in Iran, Torture of Prisoners

AKBAR GANJI: After the elections that took place in Iran, Mr. Khamenei, who is the leader of the country, came to the Friday prayers and ordered that the people should be suppressed. And the people were gunned down. And according to their own admission, twenty people were killed. And according to what dissidents say, more than 300 corpses exist, and they are being returned to their families one by one. Thousands of people who were in protests in the streets have been detained. And almost all of the reformist forces and their leaders are detained and are in prison.

This is the Islamic Republic regime, and since its very inception and the very first decade of the revolution, started by omitting and deleting the communist dissidents, and then liberal dissidents, and now it’s the turn of reformists, who have been part of the Islamic Republic, and they have held positions, high-level positions, in the Islamic Republic. Now they are detained, they are imprisoned, and they are under torture. And they are kept in solitary confinement, and they are totally separated from the outside world, and they do not know what goes on in the outside world.


The struggle between the worldly clerics (in alliance with the bazaar) and the republicans is as old as the 1979 Iranian revolution, where the “fedayeen” of the Tudeh party [Communist cadres] were the foot soldiers of the revolution but the clerics eventually usurped the leadership. ...Imam Khomeini was wary of the Iranian mullahs and he created the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (which is Mr. Khamenei’s source of power today) as an independent force to ensure clerics didn’t hijack the revolution. His own preference was that the government should be headed by non-clerics. In the early years of the revolution, the conspiracies hatched by the triumvirate of Beheshti-Rafsanjani-Rajai who engineered the ouster of the secularist leftist president Bani Sadr (who was Mr. Khomeini’s protégé), had the agenda to establish a one-party theocratic state. ...

If Mr. Rafsanjani’s putsch succeeds, Iran would bear the look of a decadent outpost in the “pro-West” Persian Gulf. Would a dubious regime be durable? More important, is it what Mr. Obama wishes to see as the destiny of the Iranian people? The Arab street is watching. Iran is an exception in the Muslim world where people have been empowered. Iran’s multitudes of poor who form Mr. Ahmedinejad’s support base, detest the corrupt, venal clerical establishment. They don’t even hide their visceral hatred of the Rafsanjani family. -- M.K. Bhadrakumar

Changing Muslim Psyche: Allah Hafiz vs. Khuda Hafiz
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
Changing Muslim Psyche: Allah Hafiz vs. Khuda Hafiz
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

Ask them to feel grateful to God that you are not living in Pakistan where your mother would be asking you to pray at home and not go to mosques for fear of being blown up by suicide bombers; ask them to feel grateful that you are living in the only non-Muslim majority country in the world which allows you to organise your personal life in accordance with Muslim Personal Law; that your constitution guarantees you equal status; that no party can come to power at the Centre which has not got your votes: and you are immediately branded a Hindu agent.

This is the condition of a community whose religion exhorts it to live with an attitude of gratitude even in the direst of circumstances, to start every prayer with Al-Hamd (Praising God). God's bounties are so many and so great that we will not finish recounting them even if we spend an entire lifetime doing that.

Islam-supremacism, contempt for other religions, are our mantras. We forget that our scriptures ask us to revere equally as Prophet Mohammad all the 124,000 prophets that preceded him in all parts of the world. This is an essential requirement for the Islamic faith.

Inner spirituality has been sucked out of our religion with the onset of Wahhabism in a big way. Under US protection, Saudi Arabia is spending tens of billions of dollars for the last 35 years in spreading a desiccated, arid, desert version of Islam, devoid of all spiritual values. The Islam to which we had been introduced in the sub-continent by our saints is dead and gone. People may still visit Sufi shrines, but the inclusiveness that it entailed is no longer there. -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

Sa’ud mixed the tribes in the Ikhwan colonies so that the unifying factor was the wahhabi doctrine, and the removal of tribal loyalty and genealogical poetry broke the Arab sense of historical continuity. In other words, as the House of Sa’ud took on absolute leadership of Arabia, all other tribes, from a societal point of view, were dismantled. This gave a blood-bonded Bedouin tribe of desert raiders on the one hand, and on the other a mass of ignorant, uprooted Bedouin-turned-peasants. They had no wealth. They had no voice in governance. They had one ferocious ambition, which was to wipe out the historical presence of Islam which was all that was left of their former tribal memory of their desert past. The Ikhwan saw themselves as elite at war with historical Islam, and in order to distinguish them as the guardians of Wahhabism they were allowed to wear a twisted strip of white material around their headgear instead of the normal black wool Iqal worn by other Arabs. ...

The poor Saudis do not seem to realise how ridiculous they are, in the same way that Louis XVI did not realise how ridiculous he was when he put the Phrygian cap of the French Revolution on his head to please the Mob, or indeed, how he gave advice on the design of the same guillotine that all too soon was going to cut off his head. -- Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir As-Sufi

The book says that the disease of social inequality was prevalent even in the Arab society during the pre-Islam and post-Islam days. To drive his point home the author asks: "If there was no inequality in Arab(ia)-where Islam was born-how does the Arabic literature contain the words, ashraf, azlaf and arzal? These three Arabic words are derived from their Arabic roots, sharf, zalf and razl which mean gentle, lowly and pariah respectively."

The book does not wholly deny the theory that the Hindus who were converted to Islam carried the vestiges of their caste-based culture with them in the Muslim society. "Who denies the impact of Hinduism over Islam or vice versa…..Synthesis and compromises happen when the two cultures and civilizations meet and decide to co-exist." But if the Muslim society, the book argues, imposes the onus of the vice inequality and casteism wholly on Hindu society it is absolutely wrong. "It's a design to hide one's own vice." -- Nalin Verma

How can one be hopeful about the political future of a country where the will and the wisdom of politicians becomes hostage to the threats of barbarians? How can I be optimistic about a country where doyens of the media like Ansar Abbasi hear the collective silence of the parliamentarians as the resounding support of the people of Pakistan, but are deaf to the threats issued by the Taliban to anyone opposing the legislation? How can I feel secure in a country where the army, despite receiving the largest chunk of our resources, cannot defeat a bunch of thugs? How can I expect justice when there are different laws for different citizens, and I as a woman am a second class citizen? How can I be inspired by a country where there is no culture, no music, no art, no poetry and no innovative thought? -- From a master's student at Princeton University Sehar Tariq’s article I want my country back.


Seerat Hazir's response: "I am curious to find out which Pakistan she wants back. The one created by the British with the help of wealthy and influential feudals and nawabs as a gift to the Americans to serve as a pawn in the cold-war games after the 2nd world war? The one ruled successively by military dictators, aided and abetted by a conniving nexus of corrupt bureaucrats, politicians, industrialists, and devious feudals that many of us were privileged enough to be related to, getting our passports and driving licences made without standing in sweaty queues? The one that created a two-class system: the haves and the have-nots?

A recent Supreme Court Judgement reinforcing minority institutions’ right to formulate their own rules and expecting students to follow them if they wanted to study there has created a storm of protest from the Muslim community as it concerned a Muslim student’s demand to be allowed to keep his beard. This was irrational, as Muslims themselves constitute a minority and run their own institutions in which they formulate their own rules. Urdu Press was flooded with articles claiming, wrongly from all accounts, that a beard was as essential for a Muslim to have as it was for say, a Sikh.

New Age Islam’s Chennai-based columnist V. M. Khaleelur Rahman looks at the issue from various perspectives. At one point, he describes the camaraderie that exists in students of minority institutions in Tamil Nadu: “In almost all minority institutions in Chennai, Muslim and Christian, nothing is imposed on the students belonging to other religions.

 For example, a head scarf is an indispensable part of the uniform in all Muslim schools but it is not made compulsory for non-Muslim girls. We have not seen any non-Muslim girl wearing a head scarf in any school here. In the same way in non-Muslim institutions belonging to Christian, Hindu or any other community in Tamil Nadu, there is nothing which can be branded as inimical to cultural or religious feelings of the Muslim community. In other words a good camaraderie exists among them here. We are proud of it.

There are many Muslim educational institutions - primary schools, higher secondary schools, arts and science colleges, engineering colleges, etc. in places like Chennai, Vaniyambadi, Ambur, Melvisharam, Keelakarai, Trichy, Kayalpattinam, etc. where students belonging to all religious communities study understanding and respecting each other's sentiments.”

In these times of group polarization, ta'assub (bias) towards one's madhhab (school of thought) and sectarianism, it is a great blessing for someone to seek guidance and accept the truth, especially, if one's source of livelihood and hard-earned respect are at stake. One such fortunate individual is Br. Mohammad Anas, the owner of Idara Ishaat-e-Diniyat - a publishing company that publishes the Fazaail-e-Amaal (also known as the Tableeghi Nisaab) in four languages and other numerous books of the Deobandis.

The Fazaail Aamaal authored by Moulana Zakariyyah Khandelwi is the book that the Jamaat Tableegh uses to spread its dawah. It is the only book that the Tableeghis allow to be read in their gatherings and a lot of stress is put on reading it regularly to the extent that this book is read by the Tableeghis five times a day after every prayer. This book has in it many false beliefs and baseless stories that have been corrupting people's Aqeedah for half a century.

Br. Mohammad Anas, the publisher of the Fazaail Aamal, after identifying the vile errors of the Fazaail-e-Amaal, has openly declared his abhorrence towards this book and the Tableeghi-Deobandi nexus that spreads its teachings. He has open-heartedly accepted the way of taking the religion from the Qur'aan and the Sunnah, which is the way of the Ahle Hadees - And All praise is due to Allah.  -- Sajid A Kayum 

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