Tag: Muslims

VIEWPOINT: Appeasement of minorities in India is a myth

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By Ram Punayni

The turmoil in Kashmir has worsened since the encounter of Burhan Wani last year (2016). The ceaseless protests, the handling of protests leading to deaths and blinding of many is very disturbing. To cap this negative development the attack on Amaranth pilgrims has added salt to the wounds of the nation. (July 2017)

Tragedy struck when one of the buses was attacked. The bus driver, Salim, in a brave gesture, kept driving despite being wounded, and that prevented a wholesale massacre.

Amarnath yatra is among the most pious of pilgrimages undertaken by scores of Hindus. Amarnath is ice Shiva Linga located in a cave deep in the valley. This was discovered by a Muslim shepherd, way back in the 1850s and since then it is a regular pilgrimage for devotees. The yatra is managed mostly by Muslims on the way and reflects the deep imprint of India’s syncretic culture.

It is also a manifestation of Kashmiriyat, the culture of Kashmir, which is a synthesis of Buddhism, Vedanta and Sufi tradition. Despite the rising militancy in Kashmir, the yatra has mostly been going on, though under heavy security cover. There are instances earlier also when the Yatra was attacked in 2001, 2002 and in 2003. Incidentally, those were also the years when NDA was ruling. What is the correlation between the muscular nationalism practiced by BJP led NDA and such acts is a matter of conjecture.

While there is communization of Kashmir issue by the Pakistan inspired militants and Al Qaeda type elements who have infiltrated into the area, by and large the deep syncretism of the area has prevailed and the local Muslim population has been of great help to the tourists (Yatris) in their hours of crisis, in matters of supply of food when the yatris have got trapped due to natural calamities. Kashmir and the nation condemned the attack in one voice. The nation was pained to no end. The prime Minister who takes a long time to speak or tweet when Pahlu Khan or a Juniad is mob lynched was prompt with a series of tweets in condemning, rightly, the incident of Amarnath.

The other part of this was the Hindu nationalists who have been on the job to run down and humiliate the liberal and democratic voices in the country. BJP spokesperson, GVL Narasimha Rao, carrying on with usual mocking at the democratic liberal elements, tweeted, “On Amarnath killings, is Not In My Name gang protesting or are protests only for Akhlaqs, Junaids, Pehlu Khans & Not4Lord Shiva devotees?”

This was in the aftermath of the massive turn out on Jantar Mantar after the killing of Junaid in the train. The general impression being spread is that liberal activists-thinkers protest only after the atrocities against Muslims. This started being propagated more so after the ‘Award wapasi’ (returning honors) after the mass lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq. As such if we see even the award wapasi occurred once there was a qualitative change in the persecution of minorities with the coming to power of Modi Sarkar. Akhlaq’s lynching was shocking. Similarly Junaid’s murder in a train also was an event where the basic foundations of democratic liberties got shaken.

The spontaneous mass protests after Junaid’s murder occurred in different cities of the country and did register the protest all around. As a matter of fact ‘Not In My Name’ protest picked up and on similar lines and thousands collected to grieve the death of Amarnath pilgrims. So what does the propaganda by BJP spokespersons aims to achieve?

Currently, this tribe wants to spread the impression that the Hindu majority is suffering; and is being persecuted while the Muslims are being appeased-pampered in this country. Hindu nationalist politics draw strength from the propaganda first against Muslims and then partly against Christians. Currently, it wants to defame all those who defend human rights of minorities. That’s the reason as protests of this kind have occurred more often and have drawn more attention. The idea behind this criticism of liberal democratic elements is to muzzle the voices of protests so that this BJP type politics constructed on intolerance for liberal values and violation of minority rights has an easy go in society. Its main plank so far has been that minorities have been appeased and now it is going to the next stage where the majority Hindu community is supposed to be suffering discrimination. This is a very shrewd move and without a shred of truth.

While their propaganda did sink into the social understanding, the truth is far from that. In our country, the economic condition of Muslims is well reflected in the Sachar committee report, how over a period of last seven decades their condition has been falling abysmally. In matters of security and being victims of violence, over 80% of violence victims are Muslims, while they constitute 14.1% in the population as per the 2011 Census. In most of the acts of terrorist violence also, it is Muslim youth who had been arrested and most of them had to be released for the lack of any evidence. Their political representation is falling continuously as reflected in the number of Muslim Lok Sabha MPs.

The perception being created about the threat to the majority community is the bedrock of the communal campaign and a clever political move to further strengthen the polarizing politics.

Source: The Citizen, July 23, 2017.(Heading changed)

India an example of unity in diversity: Hazrat Syed Muhammad Ashraf

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From Rajeev Sharma

New Delhi: Amid worries over the growing menace of terrorism across the globe, Delhi is all set to host the World Sufi Forum for four days beginning March 17. The Indian Prime Minister Mr. Modi will inaugurate the event at Vigyan Bhawan. Around 200 delegates from home and abroad will participate. Some of the important participants are: Dr Tahirul Qadri (Pakistan), Shaykh Hashimuddin al Gaylani (Sajda Nashin Khanqah Qadaria (Baghdad/Iraq), Stephen Suleman Schman Schwartz (founder and executive director of Centre for Islamic Pluralism, USA), Shykh Afeefuddin Al-Jailani (founder and chairman of Al-Wariseen Trust, Iraq), and Sheikh Mohammad Bin Yahya Al Ninowy (Sufi leader, USA). The All-India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) is the organizer.

Here are the excerpts from an interaction with the board’s Founder-President, Hazrat Syed Muhammad Ashraf:

India represents unity in diversity. The Muslim population in the country is only second to Indonesia’s. But Muslims in Indonesia are in a majority, in India they are a minority. But the Constitution of India grants full respect to Islam. In this way, India has become an example of unity in diversity. India is like a ‘guldasta’
that has flowers with many colours. This has to be preserved and protected. No flower can be put aside at the cost of others. Whatever is happening in the name of Islam today is misleading. The real Islam is one, which has been interpreted in the Holy Qur’an. And the Nabi says thrice with all the emphasis that one cannot be a ‘momin’ (believer) who has not kept his neighbor safe and satisfied by his words (zuban) and deeds (hands). The neighbor means that each individual belongs to God. Islam talks about humanity throughout the world.

Khwaja Ghareeb Nawaz has talked about it…Mehboob-e-Ilahi Makhdum Ashraf Jahangir…These are some of the great souls who while on earth in physical form, and now when they are interred, continue to spread a message of peace and harmony. How can I accept that whatever is happening in the name of Islam is Islam? Bombs are placed in markets and innocents are killed, what kind of Islam is this? Any extremist organisation waving Islamic flags and misusing the holy qur’an such as Daesh and ISIS have actually no endorsement in the ambit of islam.They are nothing but terror outfits which are tarnishing the image of islam. It is therefore important to realize and unearth the propaganda of such people and organizations that are funded by foreign entities to spread hatred and intolerance to disrupt peace in a country such as India.

A meeting with the Indian PM

As this is a major event to be held in Delhi, our 40-member delegation met the Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently to convey our sincere desire for his presence in the event. He heard us with patience and agreed to participate. He showed a great amount of warmth by shaking hands with each member of the delegation. He was informed that AIUMB is India’s apex body for sufi shrines and for muslim religious leaders such as Ulama,Imams and Muftis.

Historical Event

For the first time such a large congregation of Sufi scholars is arriving in Delhi. These scholars, drawn from madarasa,Khanqah’s and various dargahs, will present their research papers. This will take the shape of a 1,000-page book. The programme will take place on 18th and 19th March at Indian Islamic Cultural Centre. A rally is going to be held on March 20 at Ramleela ground which will be addressed by Tahirul Qadri and many well-known scholars. A large number of people have already started arriving. We believe it is high time for us to create a platform to seriously ponder over the radical interpretations of Islam by terror groups for political gains.

The spread of terror and tyranny by jihadist forces in Syria and other parts of the world has damaged the image of Islam more than ever before. However, we are of the belief that Indian Muslims can provide a real alternative to all the bloodshed being spilled across the world in the name of Islam by promoting their rich history of Sufism. We intend to make India the global centre for moderate ideology in Islam.

Religion, Peace and Violence

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By Ram Punyani

The global scenario is full of violence in the name of religion. The acts of terrorism are attributed to religious teachings at times. The local violence, the attack on religious minorities is also presented as a religious phenomenon. The last three decades have seen this tragic phenomenon where the political agenda of super power on one hand and the agenda of fundamentalist-fascist groups on the other have been given the veneer of religion. The major theory underlying the US policy in the oil zone has derived its legitimacy from Samuel Huntington theory of ‘Clash of Civilizations’. In South Asian countries spanning from Pakistan to Myanmar to Sri Lanka, the religious minorities have been on the firing line, have been facing a violence orchestrated by those practicing ‘religious nationalism’, those who on the pretext of defense of their religion, target the religious minorities. Be it the Hindus and Christians in Pakistan, Christians and Muslims in India, Buddhists and Hindus in Bangla Desh, Muslims in Myanmar or Christians and Muslims in Sri Lanka, the violence has been stalking them in one or the other form. This has increased the feeling of insecurity of religious minorities and also has eroded their rights as citizens.
What has the moral teachings of religion to do with all this? Nothing whatsoever. Still the popular perceptions and propaganda of the religious nationalist groups has been so pernicious that a ‘social common sense’ has been created, which gives credence to the role of religion in this violence.
It is in this light that three major statements from leaders, two of them religious and one political have come as a breath of fresh air, delinking religion from violence and espousing the peace making role of religion. Surely, religion is the most complex social phenomenon. It does encompass the element of moral values, values of humanism, so to say, on one side. At the same time it encompasses more visible facets of identity like rituals, Holy books, places of worship, the clergy and Holy Scriptures. At another level it has the element of faith in the supernatural power, deities. Surely, some of the religions did not talk of the supernatural power. In those religions, the prophets of the religions themselves, in due course have been given the exalted position of the God. This element of faith in supernatural is varying in degrees but is present all the same in different religions. These three statements, which struck the author all, came from people of diverse religious streams.
The first one came from Pope Francis while deliberating on the future of the church and redefining long-held Catholic doctrines and dogmas. The recently held ‘Third Vatican Council’ concluded with Pope Francis announcing that Catholicism is now a “modern and reasonable religion, which has undergone evolutionary changes. The time has come to abandon all intolerance. We must recognize that religious truth evolves and changes. Truth is not absolute or set in stone….” In a very profound manner he went on to say that “God is not a judge but a friend and a lover of humanity. God seeks not to condemn but only to embrace… Our church is big enough for heterosexuals and homosexuals, for the pro-life and the pro-choice!”
He added “because Muslims, Hindus and African Animists are also made in the very likeness and image of God, to hate them is to hate God…Whether we worship at a church, a synagogue, a mosque or a mandir, it does not matter. Whether we call God, Jesus, Adonai, Allah or Krishna, we all worship the same God of love. This truth is self-evident to all who have love and humility in their hearts!” “God is changing and evolving as we are, for God lives in us and in our hearts. When we spread love and kindness in the world, we touch our own divinity and recognize it.”
This lengthy quote from his speech demolishes so many of the intolerant attitudes towards, ‘others’, towards those having different norms, towards those having different sexual orientation as well. We witnessed recently in India that most of the clergy of different religions welcomed the Supreme Court decision whereby same sex relations are regarded as a crime. This quote from Pope also goes against the ideology of “Clash of Civilizations”; and the media propaganda whereby people of other religions are looked down upon, and Muslims in particular are demonized by large section of people. The biggest contribution of Pope is to emphasize on respect-tolerance for those who are different from us. It also outlines that we cannot stick to dogmas which were brought in the name of religion at particular time, in the times gone by. This is an extremely welcome stance taken by the highest authority of Catholic faith, something which can be the role model for clergy of other religions to emulate.

Not to be left behind, the founding-leader and patron-in-chief of Minhaj-ul-Quran International and author of the acclaimed book Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings, Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri condemned all acts of terrorism and said that the concept of “Jihad has been hijacked by terrorists”. He is precisely on the dot as the word Jihad has been given the dastardly meaning by the Salafi version of Islam, a version picked up by the US for trainings in especially set up Madrassas, from where the Mujahidin, Taliban, Al Qaeda were brought up. The politics of control on the oil resources took an inhuman form where United States proactively picked up the pervert version of Islam and popularized as ‘the Islam’, aided and assisted by its minions and large section of World media aping US in most of the matters. Dr. Mohammad, is in line with the Sufi version of Islam, where tolerance for others and celebration of diversity has been the norm. In the name of this Jihad; so much damage has been done to the human race, to redo which massive efforts are needed and one lauds the efforts of those scholars and clerics of Islam who have presented the human, tolerant face of Islam Worldwide. One cannot forget to mention the great Islamic Scholar, Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, who strove till the end of his life to present the Islam in the proper light, in the light of values of amity and peace. Surely even today there are many who are aggressively promoting the intolerant versions of Islam, the likes of Dr. Zakir Naik, who are doing great disservice to Islam and human society.

Swami Vivekananda is the latest icon to be hijacked by the politics of intolerance. Those who have spread hatred for religious minorities are projecting him to be their messiah. In this light Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh statement is very praiseworthy. Dr. Singh points out that “true religion cannot be the basis of hatred and division, but of mutual respect and tolerance for faiths and beliefs of all.”

One does note the glaring differences in the interpretation of same religion. One can note the diverse and opposite ways in which political actions take place in the name of same religion. Two or three examples are very obvious. From Hinduism one can see Mahatma Gandhi on one side and Nathuram Godse on the other. In Islam one can see Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad on one side and Osama bin Laden and the Muslim nationalists on the other. Same way one can see Pope Francis on one side and Anders Berling Brevik (Norwegian terrorist who killed 86 youth) on the other. It is the same religion in whose name such opposite stands are taken. We need to wake up to free ourselves from the ossified, intolerant views of religions and stand for humanistic teaching and tolerant traditions of religions.

Source: Plural India