Archive for the 'Islam: Politics' Category

Believe Me, I Love Seyyed Hossein Nasr

March 25, 2007

I was intrigued by Ali’s post which talked about Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s experience with a tonga driver in Lahore. In short, the tonga driver figures out that Nasr is persian and on the spot, starts reciting Hafiz, Attar, Rumi et al. with what we gather, heartfelt surr.

That example — riding in that carriage that night under the starry sky of the Punjabi countryside listening to an illiterate tonga driver reciting some of the most sublime mystical love poetry ever written, reciting both from memory and from the center of his heart — shows how universal the living reality of the love for God is in the Islamic spiritual universe.

Undoubtedly, Nasr paints a beautiful picture. I let the post churn in my head for three days because something about it just didn’t sit right with me. Then it hit me. Even though there is much truth to Nasr’s observation, there exists a dark side to this spiritual universe, a quagmire that Muslims cannot seem to escape: they have difficulty manifesting this love in their daily lives. Unfortunately, connecting the batin to the zahir is an exercise that either died out a long time ago or one that Muslims have severe difficulty executing today. There is no doubt that western people suffer from deficient sexual morality. However, for the most part, western people tend to have an impeccable social morality. The Muslim world on the other hand, reciporcates this pattern to perfection. And that is a shame for people that are scions of a personality that will be remembered eternally for being the bearer of perfect morality in every sphere of life may it be inner, outer, private or social.

What use are the experiences of saints if all we can do is print them in glossy books and memorize them for recitation? The obvious rebuttal to that is that surely there is no harm in doing the above, perhaps one day some soul may gain some benefit. I disagree. Doing the abovementioned is akin to taking pictures of clothing, memorizing their details and reprinting those pictures for the world proclaiming ‘look! clothing! this is what will beautify us and this will what will keep us warm!’

Iran & Saudi Arabia are ‘true’ Muslim countries.

December 3, 2006

Next time you decide to criticize someone for using the draconian Saudi laws as a benchmark for ‘muslimness’, keep in mind that there are people out there who perpetuate that very view. Don’t blame angry non-muslims, blame this guy (and his ilk I suppose):

In Kuwait, Shiite cleric Abdul-Hussein Qazwini said he believed the pope’s visit would have been more meaningful “if had it been made to a Muslim country such as Saudi Arabia or Iran,” rather than to secular Turkey.

Link to full article

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?

Source

“Da Vinci” unites Indian Muslims and Christians

May 15, 2006

A powerful organisation of Indian Islamic clerics promised on Monday to help Christian groups launch protests if the authorities did not ban the screening of the controversial film, “The Da Vinci Code”. [read the entire article]

Saudi Arabia’s baby boomers are redefining the kingdom’s relationship with the modern world

April 8, 2006

Scented smoke from dozens of water pipes mingled with Lebanese pop music at Al-Nakheel, a seaside restaurant in the Red Sea port of Jeddah. Saudi men in white robes and women in black abayas, their head scarves falling to their shoulders, leaned back on red cushions as they sipped tea and shared lamb kebab and hummus. Four young Saudi women, head scarves removed, trailed perfume as they walked past. Nearby, a teenage boy snapped photos of his friends with a cellphone. At an adjoining table, two young men with slicked-back hair swayed their heads to a hip-hop song echoing from the parking lot. [read the entire article]

Another take on madrassa life

April 4, 2006

Pakistan’s decision to expel foreign students, as India’s policy of limiting student visas to foreign madrassas students, will destroy a natural international network system that took decades if not centuries to build. Pakistan’s decision to expel more than a thousand foreign students from its madrassas should not surprise or bewilder anyone of us. [read the entire article]

German Muslims ignoring government help?

March 20, 2006

In Germany billions of Euros have been poured into work and education programs for immigrants — without much success. The daughters of the 4 million Turks are often prevented from taking advantage of the free higher education that the German state still lavishes on its citizens. Even if the parents grew up in Germany, they still speak Turkish at home. Their children often have difficulties in school as many do not know sufficient German to follow the lessons. More than one-third leave school without even the lowest certificate. With a 10 per cent unemployment rate in Germany you do not need a lot of imagination to foresee the dangers. Even in sheltered and peaceful Austria 53 per cent in a recent survey declared that they expected a clash between the Christian world and Islam. [read the entire article]

A Spectator’s Role for China’s Muslims

February 20, 2006

Religion is often hidden in China, so the unabashed public display of Islam here in the city known as Little Mecca is particularly striking. Men have beards and wear white caps. Women wear head scarves. Minarets poke up from large mosques. A bookstore sells Korans and religious study guides in Arabic. [read the entire article]

Canadian Islam gets media savvy

February 20, 2006

It’s the savvy new face of Canadian Islam: Prominent Muslim organizations in the media room of Parliament’s Centre Block yesterday applauding the country, its mainstream media and political leaders for their response to the cartoon controversy. [read the entire article]