Archive for the 'Islam: Extremism' Category

Our reactive extremism and Islamabad’s defensive ‘enlightened moderation’

May 29, 2006

EDITORIAL Wednesday October 20, 2004
Source : DAILY TIMES Pakistan

According to news reports, a Christian family was forced in August this year to leave its house in Wah Cantt in Punjab for fear of violence after an 11-year-old girl of the family accidentally threw a copy of the Holy Quran in the trash-can. The family of Tasneem Dean, a boiler engineer, left the Asifabad locality of Wah Cantt after an ‘agreement’ between the local Saint Thomas Catholic Church and the khateeb of Central Lala Rukh Mosque, Maulana Muhammad Ishaq. This was done in collaboration with local administration and police officials for the safety of the family because the local people had threatened to burn down their house.

The sticking point in this incident was that the law-enforcement authority, the local Muslim clergy and the Church were all agreed that no deliberate offence had been caused by the child. No case for desecration of the Holy Quran was registered against the family of Mr Dean and, if the police had had their way, an apology would have been sufficient. But the local population of mostly unlettered people was aroused by a woman who had gone to the waste disposal and started shouting. It developed that Mr Dean, the Christian, had an interest in inter-religious studies and had inherited the Holy Quran from his Christian father. Once the local mosque authority and the church recognised that, they were satisfied that there was no case under the Penal Code. Why did Mr Dean then move out of Wah?

We should go into this matter because Mr Dean could be hounded also in the next town to which he has moved. When asked why he had agreed to leave his home in Wah Cantt, he pointed to the Pushtun and Afghan migrants living in the locality who had been alerted by mischief mongers to the job of hounding him. The original population did not react after they were informed of the details of the case, but the newly arrived groups of Pathans and Afghans came around and threatened to burn down his house and possibly kill his family. The enraged groups convinced the local administration, the local khateeb and the local Catholic church that Mr Dean and his family had to leave. To give authenticity to the ‘agreement’ reached with the fleeing Christian family, the local Punjab MPA also affixed his signature to it.

If the administration in Wah thinks it has resolved a grave issue to the satisfaction of all parties, it is gravely mistaken. Once again the authorities have succumbed to the pressure of the unenlightened and the immoderate, once again the law has been flouted and once again innocent citizens have been made to suffer on account of their faith. The obligation to protect citizens against religious extremism has been dodged once again and the slogan of ‘enlightened moderation’ adopted by General Pervez Musharraf and the PML government has once again been betrayed. If this single case is considered insufficient evidence to prove the uselessness of General Musharraf’s slogan, let us take a look at the life sentence handed down on Tuesday by an additional sessions judge in Lahore to another person charged with ‘desecrating’ the Holy Quran. The evidence was allegedly flimsy but the lower court judge was so overpowered by the extremism of the local opinion that he sent the man in for the maximum punishment.

There was much reactive extremism in Pakistan’s past when our governments were not telling the world that they were determined to inculcate ‘enlightened moderation’ among the people. In 1997, the twin villages of Shantinagar-Tibba Colony, 12 kilometres east of Khanewal, Multan Division, were looted and burnt by 20,000 Muslim citizens and 500 policemen. The police first evacuated the Christian population of 15,000, then helped the raiders use battle-field explosives to blow up their houses and property. When no one from the president of Pakistan to the Inspector General of Punjab Police reacted to the biggest act of destruction in 50 years, the Christian youth took out processions in Rawalpindi and Karachi and were fired upon by the police in the latter city. The youth in Lahore was asked by their elders to refrain from protesting.

Shantinagar was destroyed by the Sipah-e-Sahaba and the organs of the Pakistani State in tandem because there was hardly any difference in outlook between the two allies. But today, President Musharraf’s government pretends to stand apart from the fanatics and the extremists. Yet every other day, people go on a rampage after ‘discovering’ a leaf or two of the Holy Quran on the road. They stop the traffic, burn tyres and destroy public property to express their ‘grief’ because that has been allowed to become a ritual. State functionaries and politicians are keen to identify themselves with the vandals rather than hold them accountable under law. What is the difference between past governments and the ‘enlightened’ and ‘moderate’ government of General Pervez Musharraf today? Shouldn’t Islamabad worry about its rhetoric and do something to spread the message against extremism more effectively?

One very effective way of reaching out to the people, instead of exposing them to slogans they don’t understand, is to discuss the subject frankly. If you simply say pur-etedaal roshan khayali, the extremist will shoot back the remark that Islam is already that, so ‘say something new’. Obviously the thing to do on the state-owned media at least is to go into the details of the religious extremism that has brought Pakistan dangerously close to what the Afghanistan of Taliban was before the world thought it necessary to destroy the government of Mullah Umar. It is time to discuss the flaws of the blasphemy law and the law pertaining to the desecration of the Holy Quran without caring to ‘balance the debate’ between the extremists and the ‘apologists’ for moderation. In the realm of human rights, you don’t do what the people want, you educate the people to respect the law and, if necessary, you use the organs of the state to do that effectively and unapologetically. Is anyone in Islamabad listening?



Art of Fatwa 2: Photography & Terrorism

April 29, 2006

I was wasting time this morning and happened to bump into some excellent fatwas at by Mufti Muhammad Ibn Adam. I will admit that I was pleasantly surprised by their depth and comprehensiveness.

Photographs: Please clarify the position of Islam

There are two positions of contemporary scholars on the issue. There are great scholars of knowledge, wisdom and piety on both sides of the fence; hence, it would be wrong to criticize anyone for following any one of these positions. It is a matter of genuine and valid difference of opinion. It is not an issue where one may condemn another, and one must respect others’ right to follow their conscience.

Islamic stance on the bombings of 7/7

The recent tragic events in London and elsewhere have unfortunately prompted many non-Muslims to associate Islam with violence and terrorism. Muslims worldwide are experiencing a very difficult stage of their existence, and facing many trials and tribulations. We are being accused of terrorism, extremism and fundamentalism. The idea that Islam is a violent religion is becoming more and more widespread to the point that even some ignorant Muslims are being affected with this propaganda.

The problem isn’t with Islam, but with wackos

March 30, 2006

I wish every Christian in America could have heard what I heard the other night. Two of the nation's most learned and respected religious scholars came to Memphis to talk about Islam and civic responsibility, two topics that don't always seem to go together. Honestly, don't you sometimes wonder — even the most open-minded and big-hearted among you — if there's some inherent flaw in Islam?

Honestly, don't you sometimes wonder — even the most open-minded and big-hearted among you — if there's some inherent flaw in Islam?
Something in the Koran that turns devoted believers into homicidal maniacs? Something about "Allah" that turns faithful followers of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, into terrorists and suicide bombers and angry mobs?

"There are a lot of crazy Muslims out there," one of the scholars acknowledged the other night.

"Wacky" was the word the other scholar used.

Such comments might have seemed inflammatory, except that they came from Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir, both American-born converts to Islam, now two of the West's most influential Islamic scholars.

Before 9/11, both men were outspoken critics of American policy. Since then, both men have become two of the strongest and sanest Islamic voices for peace and civilized discourse.

Yusuf, 45, who grew up as Mark Hanson, a Greek Orthodox kid in suburban California, has become an adviser to President Bush.

"We Muslims have lost theologically sound understanding of our own teaching," Yusuf told The Guardian during the recent cartoon controversy.

"Islam has been hijacked by a discourse of anger and the rhetoric of rage. We have lost our bearings because we have lost our theology."

Shakir, 49, who grew up Baptist in inner-city Atlanta, served four years in the Air Force before his conversion.

"If we Muslims are going to contribute to changing how Islam and our Prophet are viewed in the West, we are going to have to change what we ourselves are doing to contribute to the caricaturing of Islam," Shakir wrote last month in a widely distributed essay.

"That change can only be affected by sound knowledge coupled with exalted practice, and reviving the lofty ethical ideal of our beloved Prophet."

Both men spoke extensively about the ethics of Islam the other night at the program sponsored by Muslims in Memphis.

They said the Prophet Muhammad would abhor the violence that is committed in the name of Allah. They called on true believers to defend the faith with love, compassion and humility, not anger, hatred and violence.

"The disgraceful behavior of many Muslims is a failure of adherence to the faith, a failure to live up to the true ideals of Islam," Yusuf said.

They referred often to the sayings of Muhammad, which include: Love for humanity what you love for yourself.

That's how most Muslims here and around the world practice their faith. There are more than a billion Muslims in the world. Nearly all of them are good, decent, kind, sane, faithful and law-abiding folks.

Yes, there are some crazy, wacky Muslims out there. The world has known more than a few crazy, wacky Christians, too. So-called Christians who sicced dogs on black children or lynched black men, who burned crosses or fellow Christians at the stake, who massacred Jews or annihilated native civilizations.

The inherent flaw in Islam is the same inherent flaw in all religions.

Divine instructions must be interpreted and applied by mortal beings.

(David Waters: Commercial Appeal) 

A poorly written hate article or a reality check of Muslim da’wah?

March 17, 2006

Here are some excerpts from a Messianic Judaism hate article:

A couple of years ago, I was involved in an e-mail debate with a young Muslim from the UK. At first, we tried to be civil toward each other, but this soon deteriorated when he realized he couldn’t convert me to Islam. In frustration he finally wrote: “I’m trying to show you that one day the whole world will be Muslim, whether they want to, or not. People who do not convert will be killed….Carmen, neither you nor your pro-Jesus website are thwarting Satan; he’s happy he’s got you fooled and spending your energies on myths while he works to ravage the world through the people that truly count, such as Antichrist Bush, Saddam, and especially Antichrist Sharon.”

I believe that God is using the radical Muslims to bring about His end-time scenario as outlined in the Books of Daniel and Revelation. This scenario has already started, as is evidenced by the beheading of American, Nicholas Berg, in Iraq. These sadistic Muslim swines callously cut off his head and yelled, “Allah akhbar!” (God is great!) after doing their heinous deed. I don’t know whether or not Berg was a believer, but it doesn’t matter to the Muslims one way or another, as they consider all Westerners – whether Jew, Gentile, Christian, or atheist – to be heathens who need to be exterminated.

If I am a non-muslim, can I honestly deny the above claims or honestly say that he is lying? Nope, he’s telling the truth. I know Muslims myself that do not have a problem with any of the above. If our own moronic brothers are up to this stupidity, doesn’t this take the lustre off of any type of da’wah that we spend so much time on? I think we honestly need to seperate ourselves from wackos that live in places that support this kind of mentality because if we don’t, we risk becoming labelled and thrown in to the same pot as people who propogate ignorance and hate under the guise of Islam. The majority cannot be silent and North American Muslims have to seperate themselves not doctrinaly but ideology wise from such extremists. My non-muslim friends should be so well aware of this dynamic that if they see Daniel Pearle’s head being chopped off, they can succintly say ‘who are these so-called muslims that are bastardizing the dignified religion that we know.’

The religion is easy and whosoever will deal with religion harshly, it will defeat him. So be straight, follow the middle course, give good news and seek help by moving in the morning or the evening or part of the night .” (Al-Bukhari 38)