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  • Your Favourite Author's Page

      

    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    A regular NewAgeIslam.com columnist, Arshad Alam is a Delhi-based academic, political commentator and writer.


    Please read below the articles written by him for NewAgeIslam.com

     
    Islamic Society
    The Myth of Jahiliyyah
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    The Myth of Jahiliyyah
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    And just as Enlightenment delivered Europe into modernity through the dark ages, Islam delivered geography and its people through darkness into a new dawn. In its modern reading according to Syed Qutb and Maududi, large parts of the world are still in the age of Jahiliyyah and are waiting for Islam to deliver them from their self-imposed darkness. Just as the Europeans convinced us that colonialism was good for us, Islamists are out to prove that Islam will be good for the entire world. The claim rests on the assertion that Islam brought humanity to the Arabs and one measure of that humanity was its treatment of women....

    Islam and Politics

    The Unprecedented Loneliness of Indian Muslims
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Muslims are in an unprecedented situation today. There is so much Muslim talk these days but then there is no Muslim voice. Muslims are either spoken about or spoken over. The only Muslims who get a chance to speak are the sponsored ones: made for TV mullahs. They speak on an agenda which is pre-configured to otherwise and demonise Muslims. If this cacophony of silence needs to be broken, it must be done by Muslims themselves. There is no need to wait for others to speak up. True this loneliness is killing, but silence around the issue will only allow this loneliness to rip apart our very souls....  

    Radical Islamism and Jihad

    Why Should an Academic Course on Islamist Terror Rile Muslims?
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    We need to differentiate between Islamic and Islamist: the latter only attests the political use of Islam to capture state power where violence is indeed one of the many options. Isn’t this the ultimate aim of Islamists the world over and isn’t it that they have used terror as a method to achieve that end? How do we understand the Taliban and more recently the ISIS except through the lens of Islamist terror? Worldwide, even amongst Muslim scholars, there is now a consensus that it is the ideology of Islamism which needs to be resisted....

    Islamic Society

    Darul Qazas or Sharia Courts: Why both must be Opposed?
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    It must be underlined though that equating this with something like a Sharia court is clearly a misnomer. Courts have the ‘power’ to adjudicate over issues; the Darul-Qaza will have no such power and as such will be more like arbitration councils. To be fair to the AIMPLB, such quasi-judicial bodies do exist in other communities, such as the Khap Panchayats in Western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. In some tribal areas, these bodies even have legal recognition. Thus, the establishment of Darul Qaza may well within be the ambit of law. Demanding for a ban on Darul Qazas while remaining silent on Khaps is clearly hypocritical. It should also be understood that Darul Qazas have been functioning in this country since at least 1972....

    Islam and Politics

    The Jinnah Redux in AMU; This Time as a Farce
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Muslim society is increasingly convinced that it needs to police the behaviour of its members. Certainly one cannot hope for freedom and democracy within the wider society without championing these values within one’s own community. What is more worrisome is the Muslim anxiety to define itself solely as a theological community. If theology starts marking the boundaries of behaviour, the language of rights becomes the first casualty and the communities only stultify further.  There are enough problems which AMU should worry about. A few students drinking beer and showing it off during Ramzan should be the least of its worries....

    Current Affairs

    Understanding Pranab Mukherjee’s Speech as an Answer to Mohan Bhagwat is Wrong
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    The speeches of Bhagwat and Mukherjee go a long way to show that there is a consensus on the question of nationalism between these two political formations. The difference is just about shades rather than of type. Thus the TV debates and the newspaper columns which seek to point out their essential difference is definitely out of proportion and a lazy reading of their viewpoints. More fundamentally, this laziness is also because of the assumptions of the liberal Hindu historiography itself. Is it simply a matter of coincidence that the RSS can switch between an Indira Gandhi and Modi with such ease? After all, Indira was hailed as the Durga by none other than the RSS and the congress had no objection at that time....

    Islamic Personalities

    Why Shah Waliullah’s Thesis should be Repudiated by Indian Muslims
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    The Muslim must become puritan in order to relive the supposed lost glory of Islam. For this, purging itself of all accretions and all traces of syncretism was to become the sine qua non of Indian Muslims. As a political project, this tradition continues to this day through the activities of Deobandis, the Ahle Hadees and even the Barelwis. More than anything else, Shah Waliullah’s writings seem to be a fatal recipe for the political future of Muslims in India. ...

    Islam and Politics

    Can the Proposed World Council of Muslim Minorities correct the stereotypical image of Islam?
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Then there are Muslim minority contexts which are in the form of historically established communities who have been living together with other communities for centuries. India is an obvious example. Yet, over the years, owing to a number of factors, there has been a growing alienation of the Muslim minority communities. Some reasons for this are internal: there is increasing reliance on particular readings of religious texts which is weaning Muslims away from their shared cultural contexts. But the problem is also from the outside: increasing Islamophobia has meant that Muslims have come to be considered as untrustworthy and their religion as the epitome of backwardness....

    Islam and Politics
    His Name is Khan and He is a Hero
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    His Name is Khan and He is a Hero
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    That unending night of the tragedy, Dr. Kafeel had earned goodwill and praise from all media outlets for his sympathy and action to save dying children. But then, his identity did not fit the discourse of right-wingers. How could a Muslim become a hero? After all, this was a government which had come to power on an anti-Muslim plank and to their horror of horrors; here was a Muslim who amidst the murderous apathy of the government was winning applause from different quarters. The trolls got active....

    Islam, Women and Feminism

    Asifa was Brutalised Because She Was a Muslim; Period
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Asifa’s brutalised body was not the first, nor will it be the last witness to the madness of Uber nationalism. Many years ago, there was Surat and many years before that, there was Kunan Poshpora. The victims, some dead and some alive, are still waiting for justice. Only time will tell whether our sense of outrage and morality will stop at Asifa or whether she will become the moment of critical introspection about our collective certainties....

    Related Article:

    The Kathua Rape-And-Murder Case: Why See It Through The Prism Of Religion?

    Islam and Politics

    How China and the Call to Caliphate Are Re-Writing the Script in Kashmir
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    What we are witnessing now is perhaps more troubling: there is no conception of the nation-state in this new breed of militancy. All struggles are for establishing the glory of Islam. Pakistan is no longer the ideal: rather the idea is to establish the rule of true Islam in Pakistan also. It is no wonder then that for this new crop of Islamic militants, leaders of the Hurriyat are seen as posing obstacles to the path of establishing Islamic caliphate. Zakir Musa’s open threat to behead those who talk in terms of nation state was only a pointer of things to come....

    Islamic Society

    Time Muslims Themselves Did Away With Polygamy and Halala
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    If one follows the spirit of the Quran, then perhaps monogamy becomes the ideal form of Muslim marriage as the Quran clearly says that all wives must be treated equally which is an impossible condition. Slowly and gradually, the Quran exhorts its believers to change the normative framework according to the prevailing circumstances in society. Since the current norm is monogamy, therefore Muslims also must adopt the principle of monogamy. Also the Quranic injunction is that Muslims must follow the law of the land. Since India is a constitutional democracy, Muslims here should have no objection in case there is a law which proclaims monogamy for everyone....

    Islam and Politics

    The Left-Liberals, Muslim Leadership and the State, Sadly: A Reply to Harsh Mander and Ramchandra Guha
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Recently, the editorial pages of the Indian Express witnessed a debate on the Muslim situation by two very well-known and respected minds of India. Harsh Mander (Sonia, Sadly) lamented that even the Congress had abandoned the Muslims politically, although much of his analysis veered around how the RSS’ and BJP’s majoritarian agenda have almost reduced the Muslims to the status of second class citizens. Guha’s rejoinder (‘Liberals, Sadly’) reminded Mander that in large measures the Muslim present is the result of lack of an enlightened and liberal leadership within the Muslim community. Both arguments are valid and important but the reality of the Muslim condition today is perhaps more complicated: one in which not just the right-wing Hindu nationalism but also the liberals and the left must be brought within the ambit of discussion....

    Radical Islamism and Jihad
    The Many Uses of ISIS in Kashmir
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    The Many Uses of ISIS in Kashmir
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    The fact that the bodies of all three militants were draped in ISIS flags, seems like a prophecy come true if we recall what my journalist friend told me a couple of year ago. Coupled with this were slogans demanding Nizam e Mustafa and hailing Zakir Musa. It is well known that the funeral of slain militants become sites of political protest. But unlike in the past where the symbolism was replete with icons from within the valley, this time the symbolism was of an imagined Islamic state....

    Books and Documents

    Why Those Interested in the Idea of India Must Read Neyaz Farooquee’s ‘An Ordinary Man’s Guide to Radicalism: Growing Muslim in India’
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Muslims have to look within and do a soul searching about their political priorities. They also have to ask whether there is anything wrong with the theology which they have been practising so far. There is a problem if there is a reluctance on part of the community to teach their young about modernity and become an obstacle in the education of millions of young children. There is the added problem that the hegemonic Muslim theology has had a complicated relationship with the idea of the nation itself. ...

    Islamic Society

    Why are Indian Mullahs Condemning a Song and Wink?
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    That a wink can be a religious problem for some Muslims tells a lot about what is fundamentally wrong with the religious leadership of the Indian Muslim community. But then it is not just the wink but also the background song which seems to be a problem. Mullahs on television have been crying hoarse on how a particular song, in an upcoming Malayalam movie, has hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims as it talks about the love between Prophet Muhammad and his wife Khadija. It doesn’t matter that the same song has been sung in Kerala for decades and that it is part of the Muslim folk tradition there...

    Islamic Society

    Beyond Babri Mosque: Truce Can Only Come Through a Localised Genuine Dialogue
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Moreover some of his views will surely offend the Muslims. After a debate with the now infamous Zakir Naik, Sri Sri made a statement to his followers in which he underlined why he went for that debate. But in the same vein, he also said that the Kaaba is actually a Shiva temple and that Zakir Naik should be thankful that he did not raise this issue in the debate. Now, this contention about the Kaaba at Mecca is something which right wing Hindus have been saying for decades now. It tells us that Sri Sri, who claims to be above sectarian affiliations is himself deeply influenced by Hindu right wing ideology when it comes to thinking about Muslims....

    Islamic Society

    Ankit Saxena’s Killing Should Start a Debate about What’s Wrong with Indian Muslims
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Only through a reasoned and empathetic debate can we arrive at a solution to this problem of honour killings. But all such discussion will have to keep the individual’s choice at the forefront. Muslims themselves should take the lead to initiate such a discussion within their community. Democracy and secularism are not for others to practice but rather it is the minorities who should be at the forefront of all such struggles. Sadly, it is us, the Muslim minority, which has very acute deficit of democracy and choice within our own community....

    Islamic Society

    Modernizing Madrasa Education: An Evaluation
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Broadly, there are two categories of madrasas: those supported by the state and those supported primarily through community donations. It is possible that some community funded madrasas also take grants from the government. Within the community funded madrasas, there are number of ideological orientations possible: depending on the curriculum, madrasas in this category can be classified as Deobandi, Barelwi, Ahle Hadis, etc. Their curriculum is primarily theological which means that they hardly teach any ‘modern’ subjects like science and mathematics. Due to immense sectarian difference, these madrasas are not organised under one umbrella....

    Islam and Politics

    Stop Vilifying Madrasas and Start Discussing the Real Problem This Institution Faces
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Madrasas today are synonymous with conservatism and its outmoded ideology. What happens in these institutions in the name of learning is nothing but rote memorization of certain texts which have lost all relevance in the present time. In order that they remain relevant, radical changes are certainly required in the pedagogical structure of these institutions. They have to introduce modern texts and even interpret the old ones in new light. Those who speak of reforming the system are very conveniently dubbed as opposed to Muslims and Islam. There are people within the Muslim community who have vested interests in linking madrasas with Muslim identity. Thus, any criticism of madrasa is automatically read as an attack on Muslim identity and cries of Islam in danger start doing the rounds in Muslim circles. This has to stop….

    Islam and Politics
    Making Sense of Afrazul’s Lynching
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Making Sense of Afrazul’s Lynching
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    But in a context where Muslim lives have become precarious for the precise reason of being Muslim; then the protest against Afrazul’s killing should have made this statement boldly. In trying a balancing act, these protests have only reduced the depraved ideological gravity of this targeted killing. It was also a little rich that some of these protests were organised by those who had defended the killings of Muslims in Nandigram and Singur. If Hindu nationalism has to resurrect itself on dismembered bodies of Muslims, then it is Muslims themselves who should be at the forefront of protesting against this barbaric dystopia for it is the Muslim alone who can feel the pain of being Muslim in India today. ...

    Islamic Society

    Muslims Must Seize Any Opportunity to Reform Their Madrasas
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    It is also equally important to realise that lakhs of children are studying in these madrasas and the present state of affairs does not equip them to even understand the location of different countries on the world map. In the name of protecting of our tradition, are we not sacrificing the future of these Muslim children? Yogi Adityanath may be doing this for political reasons, but why should we blindly oppose the introduction of a superior quality of textbooks in our madrasas? ...

    Islam and Politics
    How to Make Sense of the Saudi Purge
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    How to Make Sense of the Saudi Purge
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    As commentators have pointed out, the prince should have started with the chief ideologue of the Saudi monarchy: Mohammad Ibn -e-Abdul Wahhab. It is Wahhabism and the theology of Abdul Wahhab's ideological mentor Ibn Taimiyya which is responsible for much which is wrong with the Saudi society today. Their teachings being patronised by the House of Saud has led to the repressions of women and the minority Shia population within Saudi Arabia. Moreover, it is the same ideology which has produced so many terrorists not just within the Saudi society but all over the world. Not content with being so backward and medieval in terms of their religious outlook, the Saudis exported this nefarious ideology to other parts of the world,...

    Islam and Politics
    And the Taj Stands Tall
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    And the Taj Stands Tall
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    It is true that the Taj was worked upon by Indian labourers, that it is they who built the magnificent structure. It is also possible to look at the monument as an exercise in wasteful expenditure, like Aurangzeb did. But to simply criticise it because Muslims built it is nothing but silly. The Taj is a symbol of love since centuries. The Mughal discourse and subsequent history writing have made this object of love into the common-sense of Indian people. Hindus and Muslims both look up to it as the monument dedicated to love. It is not surprising therefore that there was backlash from within the Hindus which forced Yogi to pick up a broom and run to the service of Taj. That is called the triumph of hegemony and the Hindu Right will be advised to think hard before they renege on the pledge that UP Chief Minister gave while speaking on the Taj. 

    Islamic Personalities

    Syed Ahmed Khan: When Will We Stop Idolizing Him and Start Engaging With His Ideas?
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Syed Ahmed Khan was also indifferent to the education of Muslim women. He made no effort whatsoever from which one can deduce that he viewed the education of Muslim women as a desirable project. It remains a fact that women’s education was a late starter on the campus of Aligarh. Such indifference became active hostility when it came to modern education for lower caste Muslims. Syed Ahmed was positively opposed to educating the Muslim lower castes which formed the majority of Indian Muslim population. He did not think that the lower caste Muslims possessed the required mental faculty to go for higher learning through English language....

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    TOP ARTICLE

    Radical Islamism and Jihad
    Do Not Repeat the Mistakes of 1989 in Allowing the Return of Taliban, New Age Islam Editor Sultan Shahin Asks International Community at UNHRC in Geneva

    Mr. President,

    The US is withdrawing from Afghanistan as well as from Iraq and Syria. Inspired by the Taliban declaration of victory, a radicalised terrorist in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, backed by a Pakistan-based Islamist terrorist organisation, attacked an Indian military convoy, killing 40 soldiers. Similar suicide attack killed 27 elite revolutionary guards in Sistan, Iran. Emboldened Jihadists will surely carry out more such attacks in future. The gloating in Islamist circles for having “defeated” both the superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States, has reached its peak.

    Mr. President,

    Still fresh in our minds is what happened when the international community abandoned Afghanistan in 1989. Taliban ruled and Al-Qaeda got a safe haven. A series of atrocities including 9/11 and horrors of Islamic State followed.

     In this backdrop, the complacency of the world community in allowing Taliban to govern Afghanistan is inexplicable. Jihadist strength does not come from their soldiers and territories. It comes from an ideology and ideologies cannot be defeated militarily.

    Mr. President,

    The Jihadist ideology is based on very solid foundations in Islamic history, scriptures and theology. Moderate Muslims have not yet succeeded in evolving a satisfactory alternative theology of peace and pluralism to challenge the current theology of violence and exclusion. Even when such a theology evolves, it will take time and effort for it to be established. Mainstream Muslims should be allowed the time and space to work out and propagate a counternarrative. I would, therefore, urge the international community not to repeat the mistakes of 1989 and invite further disasters....

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