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    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

     
    Radical Islamism and Jihad
    Madrasas, Islamism and Terrorism
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Madrasas, Islamism and Terrorism
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    The sophistication that is required for arms training and the knowledge that accompanies such training simply eludes a madrasa graduate. Within their madrasas they are too engrossed in literal textual hair splitting and in repeating a knowledge system which has absolutely no relationship with the present world. When an average madrasa graduate in India cannot locate USA on the world map, then it is too much to expect from him to be involved in the obliteration of America. When average madrasa graduate is taught that it is the Shia and the Ahmadias who are the enemies of Islam, then it is natural that their energy will be channelized in countering them rather than thinking about waging jihad against the Hindus....

    Islamic Ideology

    On the Self Acquired Importance of the Ulema
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    The ‘golden age’ of Islam tells us that there was always a tension between the Ulema and the philosophers. The latter did not take them seriously and at times publicly lambasted them for their limited understanding of how the world works. To make matters worse, there were poets whose favourite pastime was ridiculing the Ulema for the incoherence of their thoughts. Moreover, philosophers were Aalims in their own right: no one could accuse IbnSina or IbnRushd for not knowing religion. Indeed, in their own worlds there was hardly a distinction between the pursuit of religious and material knowledge....

    Islamic Society

    Why Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan and Indonesia Must be Repealed
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Analysts say that it is understandable that these things are happening in Pakistan. After all the country was made in the name of Islam; so it is a natural outcome that Islam will pay an important role in the public sphere. But then similar things are happening in Indonesia, a country whose tolerance and democracy was touted as the role model for Muslim countries the world over. The world’s most populous Muslim country with mid boggling diversity in terms of ethnicity, religions and languages is today falling prey to the same rhetoric making Islam the only standard against which all other religious and secular traditions must be judged and evaluated.....

    Islamic Society

    Madrasas and Failure of Muslim Leadership
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    There was an attempt made by the earlier government to bring all such madrasas under one umbrella by creating an All India Madrasa Board. It was a good idea to start with, but with various interests competing as Muslim interests, there was hardly any headway and eventually the suggestion went to the cold storage. The interesting part of this proposal was the it were Muslims themselves who had drafted this proposal. But then for many successive governments, some Muslims are more important than others. The opposition to this proposal from the Ulema saw to it that the bold proposal by reform minded Muslims was shelved....

    Radical Islamism and Jihad
    Will Turkey Become another Pakistan?
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Will Turkey Become another Pakistan?
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    The regularity with which terrorists are able to attack key cities in Turkey is alarming. The previous year saw more than 25 terror attacks in different parts of the country including Ankara and Istanbul. Most of these attacks have been attributed to Islamist terrorism but then even the erstwhile secular formation like the Kurdistan Workers’ Party is not unknown to have used terror tactics. The latest attack yesterday on a nightclub in Istanbul is just one more in a series of such attacks. It is not clear whether there were multiple attackers involved but surely the analysis is veering around the consensus that it seems to be the handiwork of the ISIS. ...

    Islamic Society
    Rohingyas and the Myth of Ummah
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Rohingyas and the Myth of Ummah
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    It is not that atrocities against these Muslims have not been documented: Human rights groups have done and have tried to make international bodies aware of it. Despite all these documented proofs, important Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran have not been able to isolate Myanmar over this issue. We need to ask those who swear in the name of the Ummah: is the blood of Rohingyas insipid in comparison to other Muslims?...

    Radical Islamism and Jihad

    Berlin Attack is a Test of German Patience
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    The detailed contours of the attack will emerge slowly but surely. After all the German police and the media have shown restraint in the past and are showing it now by not jumping the gun by naming this Islamic organization or another. They are not even unequivocally saying that this is an Islamic terrorist attack. Contrast this with the Indian media: within minutes they seem to know the name of the terrorists, the organization which they belong to, and even their other plans. But this is beside the point; the contrast only being made to show that despite such atrocities the German press and the police have maintained their neutrality and are still not openly hostile towards the Muslims.....

     
    Interfaith Dialogue
    Is a Dalit Muslim Unity Possible?
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Is a Dalit Muslim Unity Possible?
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Thus in all probability, this alliance is going to be a political alliance of convenience. It would have been much better if this alliance would also become a social alliance between Dalits and Muslims. But for that to happen, Muslims have to engage with the entrenched caste practices and ideas within their own community. It is all very well to say that Islam does not recognise caste, but anyone who is familiar with Muslim society would say that Muslims are as casteist as the Hindu society.....

    Islamic Society

    Jamiat Conference and the Mirage of Deobandi Barelvi Truce
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Both these sects are also an institutional organization which means that they run an organized system of mosques and madrasas. If they are really serious about doing something about their differences, then perhaps the first site to start doing this should be the madrasas. After all, it is through the network of madrasas that these differences are forged onto the minds of students and the common Muslims. Why not start by repudiating those texts which denounce the other sect as deviant Muslims....

    Islamic Society
    Uniform Civil Code or Islamic Reform?
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Uniform Civil Code or Islamic Reform?
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    The position of AIMPLB is only furthering the agenda of the BJP. If the BJP wants to portray the Muslims as the regressive minority, the AIMPLB is more than willing to act like one. By not engaging with the questionnaire of the law commission, it does not realise that it is sending a wrong message to other communities that Muslims remain committed to be wedded to the norms of a bygone era and refuse to come out of it. Granted that BJP might be willing to polarise society for electoral purposes, granted that it has a hidden agenda; ....

    Islamic Society

    Beyond the Moderate and Radical in Indian Islam
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

     The regime of reform became common to both the Barelvis and the Deobandis, following the model of early Islam which was adopted by them both. The problem of the loss of pluralism starts from there: till that model of early Islam heavily infused with Arab cultural traditions gets questioned, there is no point pitting moderate Barelvis against the radical Deobandis....

    Islam, Women and Feminism
    Europe and the Muslim Body
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Europe and the Muslim Body
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Sex and sexuality was never a taboo subject and early Islamic texts devote pages after pages to its discussion. Hence in Islam liberal ideas may not develop a critique of the body similar to the West for the simple reason that the Muslim body was never denied its pleasures. Thus the reason why some Muslim women would not see the veil as a symbol of sexual repression while the Christian West will is precisely because their historical and religious experiences have been very different. By reading the veil only as a symbol of oppression, Europe wants to universalize its own historical biases, anxieties and particularisms. ...

    Islam, Women and Feminism

    Haji Ali for All: The Hon'ble Mumbai High Court Did Not Agree With the Mullahs’ Claim That Islam Is a Backward, Regressive Religion
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    The second observation of the Court was that they wanted to know if segregation was an essential feature of the Islamic faith. It is a matter of great shame that the Dargah trustees went at length to prove that it was essential to the Islamic faith. Marshalling passages from the Quran and Hadees, they went at great lengths to show how Islam indeed was a backward, regressive religion which limited the movement of women. The Court however was not convinced and could not find any merit in the argument that allowing women to pray at the Dargah will fundamentally alter the faith of Islam....

    Islamic Society

    Anjem Choudary and His Followers Bring Shame to Islam
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    The prime question which never gets asked either by the Choudarys or the Naiks and millions of other Muslims is that why they are being made targets of vilification. What else do they expect when in the 21st century, they want to implement an early medieval law? Do they think that the world will appreciate them when they advocate amputation for minor theft, when they have no law to tackle sexual assault or when they justify slavery by denying agency to women in all quarters of life? ...

    Islamic Society

    Indian Muslims: Lopsided Priorities; Introspection and an Engagement with This World Is Missing
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    But perhaps the problem is much deeper and it has to be so with the way Islam itself is seen by its followers. For the adherents of this religion, Islamic supremacy is the norm since it believes that Islam is the most perfect and true of all religions. …

    Things can be rectified. But for that Muslims have to understand that theirs is not the only religion in the world which is divinely revealed. Moreover, they have to think anew their relationship with the nation state where they are in a minority. Islam has to take a back seat because there is nothing here which can tell them how to interact when they are in a minority situation. The only way forward is to accept the new challenges and altered realities which have come in the wake of modernity. Sadly, such introspection and an engagement with this world is missing.

    Radical Islamism and Jihad

    The Problem with Zakir Naik: Even if he can’t be linked to Terrorism yet, he must be taken to task for Outmoded and Medieval Theological Interpretation of Islam
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    If one assumes that Islam is perfection, that Quran is the uncreated word of God, then perhaps there is no need for any introspection. Best of all, then perhaps there is no problem with Islam and by extension Muslims. In pandering to these beliefs, Zakir Naik is not engaging in any dialogue. In fact, he is not even interested in a dialogue.

    Radical Islamism and Jihad

    Obfuscating Terror: Zakir Naik is not the only one who believes in the conspiracy theory that 9/11 was an insider job as part of a grand design to malign Islam
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Both were apparent during the holiest Muslim month of Ramzan which will go down in history as one of the bloodiest. In terrorist literature, Ramzan is called the month of jihad and action. True to their calling, they were able to murder and maim scores in Istanbul, Baghdad and Dhaka, not to mention other smaller acts of so-called jihad....

    Books and Documents

    Deoband and Theological Anti-Pluralism: A Critique of Husain Ahmad Madani’s ‘Islam and Composite Nationalism’
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    In order to make this transition from plurality to pluralism, Madani would have to forgo his own notion of superiority of Islam over other religions. This he is clearly unwilling to do. Islam for him is the only true religion and it is this conviction which leads him to claim that, ‘while being aware of the truth of their (other religions’) falsehood’, Islam is ready to ‘cooperate and tolerate’ them. In other words, Madani not only disqualifies and derogates other religions as being false, he is also of the view that, ultimately, Hindustan be Islamised: that the Hindu–Muslim entente (composite nationalism) is only required till the time people of this country do not become Muslims (Jab Tak Hindustan Ke Tamam Baashinde Mussalman Nahin Ho Jate). Such a notion hardly augurs well for any kind of pluralism….

    Although, Madani accepts that Muslims in India already cooperate with ‘non-Muslims’ on a number of civic and non-religious issues, his plea is that this temporal cooperation should not be confused with any kind of religious co-operation. Even the ‘compositeness’ of his nationalism is not an end in itself. In his own words, this composite nationalism is ‘temporary and special’ and is only required till the ‘light of true religion (read Islam) dispels its (India’s) darkness’. Shedding further light on his ‘special’ and ‘temporary’ concept, Madani elucidates that ‘composite nationalism is needed only till such time different communities (Aqwaam, sng. Qaum) and different religions exist in a country. When the entire nation becomes Muslim (which is the prime real aim: Jo Ki Awwaleen Maksad Hai), where is the need for it?’ It is very clear, therefore, that for Madani, even diversity, (forget pluralism) holds no merit of its own, rather its advocacy is strategically needed only for such time till Islam becomes the sole hegemonic religion of India. ….                                                                           

    Islam, Women and Feminism
    The Burqa in Question
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    The Burqa in Question
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    And this is about those secularists (Muslims or otherwise) who are criticizing the position of the Supreme Court as an infringement on religious freedom of Muslims. This is simply erroneous to say the least. ... the Court’s observation does not relate to Muslim religious symbols alone, but to all other faiths. It is the media which has portrayed that it is a Muslim issue alone. Again, Muslim organizations have left no stone unturned to turn the issue by playing the victim....

    Islamic Society

    Modernity and the Madrasa
    Arshad Alam

    Since 1993, there has been a madrasa modernisation policy, primarily designed for Azad madrasas. The idea was to convince them to teach modern subjects in lieu of state grants for books and additional teachers. But the policy treated madrasas as homogeneous, so grants were also cornered by state-funded madrasas. Also, a majority of the grants to Azad madrasas have been utilised to hire part-time untrained teachers, which defeats the purpose of introducing quality education in these institutions. To top it all, madrasas affiliated to Deobandis and Ahl-e-Hadis completely refused to take part in this initiative. It was due to this stiff opposition of the Ulema that the previous government dropped the idea of having an all-India madrasa board through which reforms could be implemented. In a move that can only be called a travesty of justice, the previous government also exempted madrasas from the provisions of the right to education act. So while everyone else has a fundamental right to education in this country Muslim children studying in madrasas have become casualties of a perverted form of secularism......

     
    Interfaith Dialogue

    How Promoting Diversity can Stop Spatial Segregation
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    It is therefore imperative to create conditions within society for the acceptance of diversity as a positive value. This means that we should relook at what our educational system does in terms of inculcating diversity and pluralism. We could also think in terms of fostering and showcasing the value of diversity within the civic spaces which we inhabit. What this means is that I need not have to travel to Jama Masjid to experience the life world of Muslims; this experience should be available to me in my own locality. And this can only be possible if my locality was religiously diverse.....

    Islamic Culture
    The Islamist War on History
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    The Islamist War on History
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Historical sites associated with important personalities in early Islamic history have made way for public lavatories and luxury hotels. Mecca today is all set to become a consumer’s paradise; in this consumer city, Muslims will be able to consume the Hajj the same way they consume burger with coke. In short, there is no room for reflection, an interior dialogue with one self which was the sole point of this pilgrimage, rather it is being replaced by an air conditioned Hajj where you could look down at the Kaaba from your suite in one of the many hotels which would eventually dominate the skyline and eventually engulf (and perhaps eclipse) the House of God.. .....

     
    Islam and Politics

    All that we hear about this country is underwritten by violence: between Shias and Sunnis, Deobandis and Barelvis, Muhajirs and so called ‘original’ Pakistanis. Of late, visible violence against women has increased and so has the attacks against religious minorities like Christians. So it was refreshing to read that Bilawal Bhutto plans to organize Basant festival in Sindh…..

     
    Islam, Women and Feminism
    Time To Abolish Polygamy
    Arshad Alam for New Age Islam

    Time To Abolish Polygamy
    Arshad Alam for New Age Islam

    The recent trial court judgment admonishing a Muslim man and punishing a maulvi for polygamy should be welcomed by one and all. The court rightly observes that polygamy in Islam is not a license to keep four wives at a time but rather should be seen as an institution which makes sense in extraordinary circumstances such as if done for the welfare of destitute women.

    Islamic Society
    Past Forgotten, Future Tense
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

    Past Forgotten, Future Tense
    Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
    Forgetting without a sense of justice does not help. Recent television debates urging Muslims to forget the Gujarat pogroms are just a reminder how we as a society are adept at forgetting inconvenient truths. This is definitely not to say that Muslims should not move on. In fact they must if they have to carve a better future for the coming generations. But such a moving on cannot be devoid of a sense of justice. It will be like the victim is asked to forgive the killers.

     
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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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