Thursday, December 18, 2014
Tribal barbarism in the name of Islam - Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
On December 16, 2014 a barbaric incident occurred in Peshawar. Seven terrorists of Tehrik-e-Taliban launched an attack on the Army Public School. The militants were clad in the uniform of the Frontier Corps and entered the school from the rear. They stormed the premises and held it in a nine-hour siege. During this time they moved from classroom to classroom, killing about 141 people, 132 of them students, and injuring hundreds.
This is undoubtedly an inhuman act. Killing innocent children is a crime so heinous that there is no word in the human dictionary to express its barbarity. What was the reason behind this attack? The TTP spokesperson said: “We took this extreme step as revenge. We will target every institution linked to the army unless they stop operations and extra-judicial killings of our detainees.” However, this is no justification for such attacks. It is like justifying a wrong by commiting another wrong.
Revenge may be permissible, but strictly on one condition, that is, one should take revenge only from the person who has caused harm. Killing somebody else with the plea of taking revenge is the worst human crime. Both reason and religion completely disown this act.
One of the survivors of the attack narrated a very strange aspect of the incident. He said, “The militants first asked us to read the kalima and then started firing indiscriminately.” By doing this, the perpetrators became witness against their own act. There is a very relevant verse in the Quran in this regard. It says: “If anyone kills a believer deliberately, his reward shall be eternal Hell.” (4:93)
According to this verse, anyone who intentionally kills a believer will certainly go to Hell. The above report tells us that the militants killed those children knowing that they were believers. Thus, they confirmed that they were perpetrating an act which is without doubt punishable. The incident proves that these people have nothing to do with Islam.
This bloody incident has given a chance to Muslims, especially of this area, to reconsider the whole matter. Only one more event of this kind has been reported in the past. It was also carried out by Islamist terrorists in the town of Beslan, North Ossetia in 2004. Muslims must think why such events take place in the Muslim world, while these have never occurred in the non-Muslim world.
It is a fact that both Pakistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan were formed in the name of Islam. But, the result was counterproductive as both became centres of un-Islamic activities. The reason is that both Pakistan and the Taliban were products of negative reactions, and not products of Islam in the true sense of the word. The saying, ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’, holds true for both. Reaction can never lead to a positive result. Anything that comes into existence as a result of hate culture can only lead to further hate and violence. This is what is happening in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Condemnation of this incident is not enough. It requires reassessment. The event sends out only one message to Pakistan and Afghanistan: both the Pakistan ideology and the Taliban ideology have proved to be wrong. They must accept this fact and correct their way of thinking. People of this area should bring about reform in their culture and foster the culture of love. They should adopt the way of peace and abandon the path of violence.
The right message for both Pakistan and the Taliban is: Forget the past and rebuild the future.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Nobel Peace Prize winners Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi hold up their Nobel medals during the award ceremony in Oslo on Wednesday.
Kailash Satyarthi of India and Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan on Wednesday received the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 for their pioneering work on promoting child rights in the subcontinent, as they made an impassioned plea to globalise compassion.
“Satyarthi and Yousafzai are precisely the people whom Alfred Nobel in his will calls ‘champions of peace’,” chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thorbjorn Jagland said in his speech before awarding them the prestigious prize in Oslo.
“A young girl and a somewhat older man, one from Pakistan and one from India, one Muslim, the other Hindu; both symbols of what the world needs: more unity. Fraternity between the nations!,” he added.
Mr. Satyarthi, who gave up his job as an electrical engineer to run an NGO for rescuing children from forced labour and trafficking, said: “I refuse to accept that the world is so poor, when just one week of global military expenditure is enough to bring all of our children into classrooms.”
“I refuse to accept that the shackles of slavery can ever be... stronger than the quest for freedom,” said 60-year-old Mr. Satyarthi, who asked the audience to feel the child inside them and globalise compassion.
The audience included King Harald V of Norway and Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
“Let us inculcate and transform the individuals’ compassion into a global movement. Let us globalise compassion. Not passive compassion, but transformative compassion that leads to justice, equality, and freedom,” Mr. Satyarthi said after receiving the award in Oslo at the ornate Oslo City Hall.
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, he said, “If we are to teach real peace in this world... we shall have to begin with the children.” ‘I humbly add, let us unite the world through the compassion for our children.’
“I represent here the sound of silence. The cry of innocence. And, the face of invisibility. I have come here to share the voices and dreams of our children, our children, because they are all our children,” he said, adding that the crime against children has no place in a civilised society.
Mr. Satyarthi’s NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save Childhood Movement) prides itself on liberating over 80,000 children from bonded labour in factories and workshops across India.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) there are about 168 million child labourers globally. There are roughly 60 million child labourers in India alone.
Mr. Satyarthi and 17-year-old Malala, who survived a near-fatal Taliban attack two years ago with determination advocating education for girls, were named by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for the prestigious award on October 10.
They received the Nobel medal which is 18 carat green gold plated with 24 carat gold and weighs around 175g.
They will share $1.1 million prize money.
(Courtesy: The Hindu)
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Shariah-compliant financial products will only advance a retrograde political agendaBy Sadanand Dhume
Should the secular Indian state advance the religious norms enshrined in Islamic shariah law? This is the question raised by an ill-advised move by SBI Funds Management to start an Islamic mutual fund called the SBI Shariah Equity Fund. The fund, whose scheduled launch this week has reportedly been deferred, will be benchmarked to the S&P BSE 500 Shariah Index. Managers will pick stocks guided by a shariah board, whose responsibilities include procuring appropriate fatwas, or religious edicts, for permissible investments.
To understand why this is a terrible idea, go back to the roots of modern Islamic finance. First proposed in pre-Partition India by Jamaat-e-Islami founder Abul Ala Maududi (1903-79), shariah-compliant financial practices are part of a larger Islamist project to order every aspect of the state and society by the medieval norms enshrined in shariah law. According to Duke University’s Professor Timur Kuran, Maududi’s goal was not to foster prosperity in his community, but to underscore the idea that “to be a Muslim is to live differently”.
Islamic finance ostensibly hinges on three principles: a ban on interest, a wealth tax (zakat) and honesty in business. More broadly, it applies religious norms to business decisions. Shariah-compliant funds, for instance, will not invest in companies whose practices are frowned upon by Islam, such as pig farms or banks that charge interest.
Historically, Maududi’s idea languished for decades before being given a boost by Saudi oil wealth in the 1970s. Since then Islamic finance has grown steadily. Standard and Poor’s estimates that shariah-compliant assets are worth about $1.4 trillion worldwide, the vast majority in Muslim-majority countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Malaysia.
Maududi envisioned Islamic finance as accomplishing three goals: minimising Muslim interaction with non-Muslims, deepening the transnational identity of the community of believers, or ummah, and injecting Islam into every aspect of daily life. Over the years, Islamist groups worldwide, including the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab world and the Jamaat-e-Islami in the Indian subcontinent, have worked tirelessly to advance these objectives. It’s no coincidence that Islamic finance has grown along with a broader swing in the Muslim world away from secularism and toward literalist interpretations of Islam.
MAINSTREAM THE GHETTOES
What does all this mean for India? Simply put, policymakers need to gauge products such as the new SBI fund not merely in narrow financial terms, but in terms of their larger implications.
They can start by asking some basic questions. Should state-owned institutions in an avowedly secular republic advance Islamist political goals? Is India better served by integrating its 150-million strong Muslim population into the financial mainstream, or by ghettoising it in the economic equivalents of Ahmedabad’s Juhapura or Thane’s Bhiwandi? Does the new fund inch India closer toward accepting Islamic banking, which it has so far avoided?
The answers ought to be self-evident. That the questions were apparently not asked highlights a certain naiveté at the heart of India’s financial establishment. Last year, during the waning days of D Subbarao’s tenure as RBI governor, the central bank set a poor precedent by granting a licence to a non-banking finance company in Kerala based on shariah principles. The new SBI fund would further strengthen the dubious principle of mixing religion and finance. It would also make India only the second non-Islamic country (after Britain) with a stateowned bank that offers a shariahcompliant fund.
For the BJP-led government, the shariah-based fund ought to be a litmus test. In the 1990s, the BJP rose to prominence in part by critiquing the Congress’ tendency to equate secularism with pandering to the most orthodox elements in Islamic society. At its heart, stripped of financial complexities, this is what the proposed new fund represents.
Indeed, when given a choice, ordinary Muslims worldwide show no special affinity for shariah-based financial products. Most are happy to use regular banks that pay interest. Moreover, pious Indian Muslims already have the option to channel their investments through shariahcompliant private funds such as the Tata Ethical Fund. There’s no reason for state-owned institutions to follow.
GIVE IT A QUIET BURIAL
More broadly, instead of promoting Maududi’s divisive vision, India ought to do exactly the opposite. Rather than minimise Muslim exposure to regular financial instruments, India should encourage more Muslims to enter the financial mainstream.
And instead of spawning financial products that appeal to religious identity, state-owned banks should simply treat Muslims like they treat all other Indians. Indeed, if properly implemented, the prime minister’s ambitious financial inclusion plan, the Jan Dhan Yojana, could offer a template of sorts by increasing the number of Muslims with bank accounts.
For now, though, the ball is in SBI Fund Management’s court. If it’s wise, it will give the SBI Shariah Equity Fund a quiet burial and move on to more sensible projects. The last thing India needs is clueless bankers who strengthen a dangerous ideology without understanding the consequences.
The writer is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC
(For a counterview, read BBC’s ‘How Sharia-compliant is Islamic banking?’ at goo.gl/h9O7Lw)
(Courtesy: The Economic Times)
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Mahesh Savani said the women, whose families were all too poor to finance their weddings, saw him as their foster father.
The 44-year-old said he had given each one gifts of gold and other items worth Rs. 4.5 lakh to start their married lives, as well as paying for the wedding.
"Material gifts are not important, but I have given my name to them and will fulfil all my responsibilities as a father of the bride for the rest of my life," he told news agency AFP before the ceremony was held at a school in Surat on Sunday.
Mr Savani, who has now organised the weddings of 251 women, said he began his charitable campaign in 2008 when one of his own staff members died.
"I was very shocked when one of my employees died just 12 days before he could marry off his two daughters. It was very difficult for the family to arrange for marriage," he said.
"So I decided that I would become their foster father and marry them off. This is how it began," Savani said.
It is not known how much the giant ceremony wedding cost.
At Diwali, a diamond merchant in Gujarat, Savjibhai Dholakiya, made international headlines for his generosity- he gifted cars, homes and jewelery to over 1,000 of his employees as a bonus for their hard work and loyalty.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful
UNIFORM CIVIL CODE?
A RELOOK AT THE PAST HAPPENINGS
V.M. Khaleelur Rahman
One wonders if a thousand debates which we witnessed on the Supreme Court judgment in the Shah Bano case and the Muslim women (protection of rights on divorce) Act 1986 passed in Indian Parliament after a very long and thorough arguments were not enough to conclude that Indian Muslims cannot compromise on their fundamental and Constitutional rights such as protecting their ‘more than life’ important Islamic laws which they consider rational, reasonable and divine-inspired.
As there is frequent criticism of the stand taken by Muslims on the above said judgment even after so many years of the passing of the Muslim Women Act 1986, it seems necessary to place the Muslim points of view before the people on this oft-repeated and never-ending controversy.
Unless we discuss and debate things which confront us, we cannot understand and solve them. Hence this humble attempt to make sure that in matters of faith which are of course one’s personal affairs, there should be no interference from any quarter at all. This is a ‘since qua non’ for unity and integrity of our country. Let our ancient country India remain a garden of different flowers and spread its message of unity in diversity and composite cultural heritage without any religious fanaticism so that all people, whatever their religion or faith, may live in peace and harmony. Our aim should be to make our country materially prosperous and spiritually “a shining symbol or model of peace”.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
The Chief Justice of India, Mr. K. G. Balakrishnan said rightly sometime ago that a uniform civil code is a highly sensitive issue in our country where people belonging to different castes, races and communities live and explained it in detail saying that “it took thirty years for Britishers to implement the Indian penal code after its codification in the beginning of 1830”. It is really welcome and appreciable. I feel that his opinion should have pleased the minorities here particularly Muslims and Christians.
In a plural society like India only plural laws can give a strong feeling of nationality. Ours is a country of people belonging to different faiths and cultures and of course they must have the laws of their respective choice. The different personal laws in vogue now should continue to exist for the purpose of unity and solidarity of the country. If a uniform civil code is imposed on the unwilling minorities, it will not only be of no use, but also weaken our country. The best way is to make the different personal laws uniform as much as possible. There is no attempt in this respect by any quarter just because the uncalled for obiter dicta of the Supreme Court is being exploited by communal parties to their selfish political ends and the Muslim intellectuals who have the interest of the community and country at heart have lost their grounds for reforms of the Muslim personal law in the midst of rampant communal atmosphere.
There is an urgent need for creating a right atmosphere in the country where people can feel free to think and decide their issues. Moreover there is mention of a uniform civil code in the Directive Principles of the Constitution and not of a common civil code. It is well known that the Hindu laws are not the same everywhere in the country. The tribals also enjoy their own laws and they continue to receive support from all politicians. As the first step let the Hindu laws be made uniform.
This writer asked many ulemas about this issue. They say in so many words that they cannot oppose a uniform civil code if it is within the framework of the Islamic laws but there is no possibility of this and hence their opposition. It is wrong to say that Muslims oppose a uniform civil code. They only oppose any imposition of unwanted laws on them because they feel and rightly so that Islam provides better laws which are not only for them but for all human beings of all times. On the contrary the laws found in the Indian personal laws are not perfect.
The Muslims should consider that the Holy Quran has given excellent laws about marriage, divorce, inheritance etc. which are indeed far better than the modern laws and so they should adopt them in spirit and letter.
A majority of Muslims oppose the unilateral and instant triple divorce system and prefer the rational Quranic laws. The Ulema (Islamic scholars) belonging to the Ahle-hadees school of thought simply consider this system un-Islamic and invalid. All other Ulema also consider the instant triple system an act of the days of ignorance (Ayyamul Jahiliyya) but “occured” if it is practised even though it is not an approved system in the light of the holy Quran and Ahadees. All Ulema say that divorce should only be as the last resort and there should not be any hasty decision. There are many books written on this subject. Moreover almost all Muslim intellectuals, including Justice V. Khalid, former judge of the Supreme court, disapprove this system and consider it un-Islamic.
Islam provides laws for all situations and it is our inability to make use of them properly. And it is this inability of ours which often lands us in trouble. If Muslims follow the Islamic laws in spirit and letter, not only they will be benefited, but even people belonging to other faiths will come forward to follow them because of their fairness.
The Muslim Personal Law should continue to be in existence in our country and of course we can and we should make necessary changes in it as time demands in the light of the holy Quran and Ahadees. Islam provides laws meant for all times. We fail to grasp and implement them.
Friday, November 14, 2014
Today is the Children’s day- 14th November -which is the birth day of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The following write-up is an extract from which we can understand the thinking, humility and approach of this great freedom fighter and builder of India who belongs to all.
DARLING OF THE MASSES
No other leader in the wide world had so much real love for the masses as Nehru. It was inborn in him. Often he wondered how the people of India, the common people of India, men, women and children, gathered in their thousands at his meetings, though most of them did not know the language he spoke in and much less understood what he said. Still they came, not so much to hear his oration as for the darshan, to get inspired by the sight of the leader. He always loved to meet people to look into their eyes and fathom what lay behind them, to understand their urges, their needs and sufferings.
How was he able to achieve this? No one was conscious of it in a greater degree than Nehru himself. He said: “Perhaps more than any other person in India at present, I have come in contact with vast masses of human beings…I come in contact with them and I am receptive to their feelings. And because I am receptive to their feelings I can make them receptive to what I say. It has to be mutual. If I went about like a school master or a boss ordering them about, their receptiveness would close up. I go as a colleague and comrade and I credit them with intelligence to understand the most intricate problems”.
On several occasions when as a security measure, the public were kept at a distance from him, Nehru got excited and shouted:“I do not want to see policemen and policemen everywhere. Where are the people? Who are you to stand between me and my people?” Only when he heard the people greeting him from somewhere did he relax or smile. This love for the masses and the reciprocal regard and esteem and affection that he got in abundant measure were unique, probably he was the one and only leader who enjoyed this love to the point of deification.
In fact he exercised a hypnotic spell over the Indian masses as no other leader did before. Dr. Matthai, a former Indian Finance Minister, has said that it would be difficult to find in the history of this country, since the days of the Mauryan Empire a single leader whose utterances and messages were received with such enthusiasm and interest by the people from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin. So much so that he had got used to this here-worship. Very often he debated this issue within himself. At times he detested hero-worship, yet he had got accustomed to it.
His love for the masses was absolutely genuine. Some years ago Nehru told the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry that the Second Five Year Plan was by no means over-ambitious. He added, people who talked about the Second Plan being over-ambitious ignored the nature of the problem and asked, was it ambitious for the Indian people to presume to think that they could ever be prosperous, wealthy and strong? He continued: “When we said that we could be independent and would not be ruled by any other country, some people in our own country thought, “are these people, disunited, fighting each other on religious grounds, caste grounds and language grounds, poverty-stricken people, backward people, superstitious people who go and bathe by the millions in the Ganges or the Jamuna or some other river if there is an eclipse of the Sun or Moon, worthy of freedom?” Many people said so and that argument might well have been justified logically on paper. But we dared, the people of India dared, the ordinary peasant, the poverty-stricken peasant of India dared and we succeeded. Therefore do not let it be said that we are ambitious. The moment we cease to be ambitious, we go downhill.” Evidently Nehru agreed with Browning who said:
Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for?
Nehru had an uncanny way of winning the love, affection and esteem of his countrymen. To quote one instance: on April 15, 1959, Nehru was on a visit to the city of Madras. A little earlier, he had displeased a section of the South Indians by his remarks on Rajaji, his strong attack on those who opposed the policy of his Government with regard to Hindi and his criticism of critics in general. The South as a whole felt offended: still, when he came to the State capital, the citizens of Madras did attend his meetings in their thousands as usual but with heavy hearts.
Nehru mounted the rostrum and greeted the audience with folded hands and with a mesmeric smile. Those who were very near him, those who caught the glint in his eyes and the curve of his lips were completely charmed and immediately forgot all about his offending remarks made on an earlier occasion. He began: “I am a very fortunate person. I have come to Madras on a very auspicious day – the Tamil New Year day. I congratulate you and give you my good wishes for the New Year that is beginning today”. This impressed the sensitive Tamilians and they were happy.
Then he added: “Arriving here today I had the best of New Year gifts given to me. That was a party of children of Madras gathered together for the inauguration of the Children’s Park at Guindy. Is that not a piece of very good fortune for me?” Immediately after, a still larger section came under his spell –the whole world loves the man who loves children.
Now he turned to the critics. He knew there was a good number of them in the audience and that the best way to deal with them was to recognize them. So he said: “It is good to have critics…..because the best of us are apt to look at things in a limited way if there are no critics………..Therefore I am not complaining of criticisms but I welcome them.” The critics were naturally elated at this delightful reference to them and soon became his friends.
Nehru remembered that he was harsh on Rajaji on a previous visit and felt that he owed the Madras audience an explanation if not an apology. He was quite ready for the job. He said: “A very eminent leader of India whom we have honoured and respected for generations, Rajaji, has been writing and sometimes showing displeasure at our policy. Anything that Rajaji says has always merited consideration and respectful attention……………Now I may perhaps venture to say one word for him with great respect and that is ………a little charity sometimes in his thinking may not be out of place. We are not as wise as he is. We may have other faults, but let us not be charged with lack of good faith.” The job was so excellently and superbly done that Rajai-fans who were harbouring a grouse in their minds forgave him and all their animosity and antipathy towards Nehru turned into sympathy.
Having thus secured the sympathy of the audience, Nehru began to have his say. He argued: “Let it be understood. It is not enough to criticize us, it is not enough to say that we are going in the wrong way. It is not enough to say that we are going too fast or that ‘you must have brakes and checks; otherwise you break your necks.’ Let us analyse the problem. Let us try to find out what it is.”
He paused and cast a thoughtful look at the audience. He pondered for a while and resumed his speech: “I am quite honest with you. I make no claim to any brilliance of understanding in economic matters and the like……….I want you to consider whether all these wonderful Plans came out of my head like Minerva coming out of the head of Jupiter. Rajaji knows that I am not such a brilliant person. I am rather an ordinary person with certain well-defined capacity, energy and fortunately with a good deal of health about me so that I can throw myself about”
Seeing the audience veering round to him, he developed the theme: “Of course always there is the driving force in our head, that we have got to go ahead. If it is not there, I do not know what exactly we are for. I hope none of us takes hold of these Ministerships just to earn a living. I suppose many of us can earn much bigger amounts in other ways. After all, we may not be quite so bad, not that bad.
Now Nehru’s hand was on the pulse of the public. He said in all humility: “No single man, however able he is, can shoulder the burden alone and if at any time those of us who are connected with the Government, either at the Centre or in the States, imagine that they are supermen and that they need not consult others, then they have failed in their work. It is with this spirit that I wish to approach questions. Of course, I have failed often enough. I make mistakes but I hope everything will be forgiven if I mean the right thing, if I try to do right and if I endeavour to do so.” Nothing appeals to the common man more than great men’s modesty and admission of mistakes. And more members of the audience were being swept off their feet without their knowing it.
The people were under his hypnotic spell. He said: “Well my time is up. I am happy to have been able to come to Madras on this New Year Day and to tell you something that I have in my mind. Life is exciting in India, dealing with problems. I have had my share of this excitement and though there are big problems, the faith, the idea that I have the affection and goodwill of large numbers of people of India has helped me and will help me.”
Then he pondered for a while and seriously added: “ And if any day, the people of India do not have that faith in me, they are perfectly capable of asking me to retire and go away somewhere else and I should gladly do it without a trace of, shall I say, resentment. I shall be very happy indeed. But so long as I am in the job, I am in it. I have some energy still and I propose to strive hard so long as there is strength in me to realize the dreams we have had and the promises we have made. If I do not do so, I shall be unworthy of your confidence, of the position we occupy…..I believe that this huge social transformation cannot be brought about by government decree. Millions of people have to work for it. Therefore I beg of you, consider these matters, think of these problems, come to conclusions and then act upon them. Jai Hind.”
Nehru did not like flattery or high-sounding encomiums. He referred to it at a Coimbatore function when an address was presented to him cataloguing the many virtues that he possessed and many more that he did not. He shunned praise. Too much praise is like too much sugar in the tea; only a few can swallow it.