Monday, October 14, 2013

Fuming Against Dar-ul-Uloom

The following piece appeared in the New Indian Express on the said date.

Our remarks are in black against the original article in blue.

Stop creating Muslim misfits

Published: 08th October 2013 06:00 AM
Last Updated: 08th October 2013 01:15 AM
In the interest of Muslims, there is an urgent need to reform or shut down Darul Uloom Deoband,
Now that you are at it you might consider shutting down Islam too.
... the internationally known Islamic seminary engendering obscurantism, sectarianism and religious orthodoxies harmful to Muslims.
Perhaps you wanted to write infamous in place of known.
In a recent fatwa, it ruled that Shias, mainly Bohra Muslims, are non-Muslims, violating the egalitarian tenets of the Indian republic.
Dar-ul-Uloom was established much before the establishment of the Indian Republic. Hence the Indian republic accepts the existence of the Dar-ul-Uloom as it was. And one of the jobs of Dar-ul-Uloom is to interpret Islam. It was within its right to do what it did.
Fatwas are Islamic legal opinions given in response to a query and, while not many Muslims follow them, they do influence the devout ones.
 You are getting distracted. 
The accepted view that no clergy exists in Islam is untrue, as a large number of clerics in Indian villages act as doorkeepers to Muslim minds.
You are taking up issues with Islam.
If we could hazard a guess then the object might be to adjust Islam to the whims of your current hosts, the US.
In recent years, the Darul Uloom Deoband has delivered numerous fatwas which undermine women’s freedom.
For the record you are taking the western standards as the norm.
The western standards were designed, having their roots in the the crusading mentality, to be anti-Islamic.

With that mindset it is not possible to engage Muslims in any useful dialogue. Moreover it is strange that a person with a Muslim sounding name should appoint himself as a spokesman for the west.

Just in case the author thinks he is addressing Muslims as a fellow Muslim then the platform chosen is very unfortunate. In-house problems should be solved in the house.
Notably, women cannot preach or deliver sermons;
Actually they do, amongst women.
... working women cannot mix with male colleagues;
This one you got right. It is clear that either you are looking for mixing with opposite gender or you are trying to appease the detractors of Islam. Both reflect badly on your character.
... women must wear a burqa;
You mention it as some sort of injustice. Justice is to implement Islam. In Islam modesty is prescribed not only for women but for men too.
... triple talaq uttered through a cellphone is valid;
Divorce is a serious matter in Islam and no Muslim should play with it. Even by way of allowing your anger to get better of you. When faced with a serious issue the option available is to take it seriously. To change the tenets of religion to suit your temper is not religiosity. Islam was decided ny Allah, exalted is He, for us we do not have the liberty to redesign it. Nor has the Dar-ul-Uloom said liberty. Designer Islam is not Islam.
...women cannot serve as qazis, or judges;
True. Still with us?
talking to one’s fiancĂ© on phone is haram or forbidden;
True again. Are you a new kid on the block? People have been talking about these things for a long time and you are still stuck at the start line.
... adolescent girls over 13 years cannot ride bicycles;
I see. Got to check this one.
... it is undesirable for women to drive a car;
I have heard that is true about Saudi Arab. Got to check this one also.
... women shouldn’t contest elections and must observe purdah;
Most probably true. And you are repeating yourself.
... co-education is impermissible.
True. Sad that you discovered it just now. And you immediately jumped to the conclusion that Dar-ul-Uloom should be shut down. Looks like your brain did not boot properly.
Such fatwas include: Muslims shouldn’t work in banks;
That is related to Riba, the interest. This does not preclude bank jobs. You seem to be a rather clear customer of western ideology to the complete exclusion of Islam. The west has been doing that for long. Fourteen hundred years or so. You bring in only one new ingredient - that you are a Muslim or  at least have a Muslim sounding name. Unfortunately that too does not sound terribly original. There have been many people with Muslim sounding names who tried to fit Islam to the western ideal. They got no where and all such attempts are destined to fail in future. The reason is simple. Either we fit ourselves in the religion preferred by Allah. ( Rebuttal to be continued.)
modelling and acting are offences; watching cartoons on television is unlawful for children; donating blood and organs is haram; photography is sinful; celebrating birthdays is disallowed; a person blaspheming Prophet Muhammad should be killed; body scan is impermissible; and life insurance is illegal.
Such fatwas emasculate Muslim minds. Noted academic S Irfan Habib urged Muslims to ignore them. Yasoob Abbasi of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board said these “irresponsible” fatwas bring a bad name to Islam; another Board member Q R Ilyasi reminded that co-education schools exist in Saudi Arabia and Iran. Maulana Syed Ashraf Kichhouchhvi of the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board, a body of Sufis, dubbed the anti-birthday fatwa as sans spiritualism. Regarding body scan, Faizan Mustafa, vice chancellor of the National Law University in Hyderabad, said that whatever the state does for the common good is allowed in Islam. Arshad Alam of the Jamia Millia Islamia University described these fatwas as sectarian, contested by Ahl-e-Hadees, Barelvis and Shias. Waqarunnisan Ansari, a Mumbai corporator, questioned the clerics’ competence to issue fatwas, asking if they know the terrible conditions experienced by women. Reflecting at the bigger problem facing Muslims, social activist Javed Anand warned that all religious groups such as Tablighi Jamaat, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, Ahl-e-Hadith and Jamaat-e-Islami do not think “any differently” from the Darul Uloom Deoband.
Islamists argue that one should ignore these fatwas as the silent majority of Muslims disregards them. This argument itself is a problem: the silent majority cowers behind the four walls of home when a cleric rules over an entire village.Islamists accuse liberal Muslims of defaming Islam and argue that anti-women fatwas are just a few. But, these fatwas are a mirror to the ruling ideology that causes Muslim decay. At this point in civilisation as we have journeyed from the invention of the wheel and steam engine on way to landing at Mars, it is meaningless to debate what arguments the Darul Uloom Deoband offers for its fatwas. The concern is: it is creating misfits for the modern world; its graduates will go on teaching a distorted version of Islam.
After 1857 when Muslims lost power in Delhi, two responses emerged: one, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan advocated scientific education as the cure for Muslim decay and established a modernist college known as Aligarh Muslim University; second, Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanautvi favoured Islamic revival as the medicine for Muslim development and founded the Darul Uloom Deoband. The seminary relies on contributions and trains 5,000 residential students, with 1,000 graduating every year with an 8-year Fazeelat degree. However, its syllabus covers only three disciplines: Islamic jurisprudence, a hadith or traditions of Prophet Muhammad, the Koran. It doesn’t even teach Islamic history, except for bits that figure in a hadith. It has recently introduced skills courses in English and computer science for post-Fazeelat students but these aren’t aimed at broadening students’ minds.
Delhi-based journalist Abid Anwar, who studied at the Darul Uloom Deoband, says the clerics who issue fatwas do not read newspapers or watch television and are unaware of societal realities. “The seminary must incorporate social sciences, mathematics, geography and natural science right from year one of the Fazeelat course if it wants to prepare its students to interact with the wider society,” Anwar says, citing the example of Bihar where madrassas introduced the subjects in the 1980s. However, reform initiatives were always rebuffed. In 2009, the Indian government tried, in line with the Sachar Committee recommendations, to introduce a madrassa reform legislation so that their degrees are valued at par with mainstream schools. But Abdul Khaliq Madrasi, pro-vice chancellor of Darul Uloom Deoband, accused the government of interference. In 2011, the seminary’s reformist vice chancellor Ghulam Muhammad Vastanvi was removed. A tiny number of clerics sabotaged madrassa reform, though most Muslims favour it. This is the crux: a few Islamic clerics have the ability to push an entire community into decadence; while more schools are needed, the real problem is the darkness emanating from Darul Uloom Deoband. Not to forget: Deoband-leaning seminaries are producing jihadists and suicide bombers in Pakistan.
In a vibrant democracy like India, there is always something a government can do for its citizens. It must set up an educational commission on Darul Uloom Deoband and other seminaries, inquiring into their role in causing Muslim backwardness. It must: examine if their syllabus meets the educational needs of Muslims or they are producing second-class citizens in violation of the Constitution; probe their sources of funding and if they are influenced by foreign elements like Saudi Wahhabis; work to set up a council of fatwas representing clerics from all Islamic sects and ensure 50 per cent of them are women; suggest measures for recruiting female teachers in seminaries in the hope that in a 100 years — as there is no shortcut — they will produce a women-friendly interpretation of Islam.

Tufail Ahmad is director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Socrates, Plato, Aristotle

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are the three giants of western philosophy.

Whole of the western world view sort of sits on these three names.

These are pre-Islamic figures.

After the advent of Islam some Muslim thinkers introduced them to the Muslim intellectual world.

And that is where these Muslim thinkers perpetuated a tragedy.

They presented these philosophers in a light that went beyond their status.

And hence the Muslim world, till today, remains in awe of these philosophers.

They certainly were great thinkers of their own times, and they were ahead of their times, perhaps much ahead but that is all there is to it.

Do credit them for the modern western progress.

Then also blame them for the disaster that the west is at present.

That way you might come closer to the reality of their stature.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

How Can Aligarh Movement be Effective?

To decide how Aligarh Movement can be effective we have to first ascertain why we are ineffective.

Ineffective we are but we might differ on the cause behind that malaise.

In my view we have become ineffective because we Muslims blame ourselves for the partition of India.

And that is a wrong attitude.

We are not responsible for the partition of India at all.
Not in the least bit.

Pedantically we were not there at the time of partition.
At the technically correct level too we are not responsible because our ancestors at the time of partition were the people who were against the partition.

In view of this why is it so difficult to throw away the guilt of partition?
Let us do that. Let us throw away the guilt of partition.

And yours truly asserts that we Muslims of India as a whole do not want anther partition of India.

This is a strange thing to say but perhaps not so strange in view of the often repeated rhetoric from the detractors of Muslims that they will not tolerate another partition of India. Sorry we Muslims of India do not know any organizations working towards that end. So another partition of India is a strawman argument.

And once we put off the partition  guilt cloak we are free to think of the ways to make Aligarh Movement effective in twenty first century.

Aligarh is capable of engendering the social, cultural, political, scientific, technical,  industrial, financial and economic rejuvenation of Muslim Ummah in India. That is what Sir Syed's vision is all about.

Taking up the social recharging of Muslim Ummah in India one can think of a several diseases that are peculiar to Muslims. For example there are too many people who think that their ancestry is noble because of one simple fact - they are of non-Indian origin.

Now that is silly. Beloved Prophet, may peace and mercy of God be upon him, said that an Arab is not superior to an Ajam, that is, a person that is not Arab.
And that should have settled the issue long back.

It is the Aligarh community that has to work out the implications of this issue and clarify them to the Muslim politicians and social workers.

Unfortunately this is a weak spot of an Aligarian. There are indications that Sir Syed wanted to cater to the elite of the society. But social rejuvenation means throwing away the old useless burden and move on in life. The strength of a social movement lies in its ability to identify its own weaknesses and over come them. Aligarh Movement is mature enough to do that. And that is what it should do. If Mayawati, walking, or running, on the shoulders of Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram can do legendary social engineering it will be a shame for Aligarh community not to effect the same in spite of having so many giants to support us with their shoulders.

Other social issues can similarly be taken and as a sample we suffice with above example only. The task of identifying social problems or areas of strengths that can be exploited for energizing the Muslim Ummah in India rightfully belongs to the social science intellectuals of Aligarh Movement. they should come forward to take up the task.

No particular effort is required for cultural rejuvenation of the Ummah, or any society for that matter. The reason is that cultural effervescence of any society is a by product of its intellectual rejuvenation. That is what we learn from the history and lessons of history can always be used for our own benefit.

I shall make only one remark that some particular type of cultural euphoria or phenomena is not very Islamic. Once the department of culture or some other government of India department came out with the programme in Humayun's tomb area that was called Islamic culture with aqeeedat, with faith. There was nothing Islamic about it. But we digress.

Political rejuvenation is the most tricky part. Casteism is looked down upon by the constitution of India but caste based equation are always at the helm of all planning across the party spectrum. No one has any programme to neutralize that. We do not see any near future prospect of that going away. Religion based organization of political dynamics is a big no no in our country. The most one can do is to make some noise about minorities in some non-effective fora and and that is about it.

In view of the above all the Aligarh Movement can do is to make an attempt to persuade the Muslim politicians, particularly the members of assemblies and the parliament, to take a united view of the Ummah so as to get its due that has been assured by the constitution of India.

Needless to mention that this point has to be further thrashed out so as to sensitize the matter to the desired levels. But then that is what the job of an intellectual enterprise like Aligarh Movement is. Aligarh Movement is about how to thrive in a non-Islamic environment and Aligarian community should take up the responsibility in this matter very seriously.

While receiving his life time achievement award in a convocation its first recipient Zakir Ali Khan said that in a nutshell the spirit of Aligarh is to rise upto the occasion. The political thinkers of Aligarh should rise upto the occasion and solve the conundrum faced by Indian Muslim community.

This brings us to the scientific rejuvenation of Muslim Ummah in India. This is the biggest beating stick against Muslims in modern times. We are accused of being scientifically backward, nay illiterate.

And that is a calumny. In reality Muslim Ummah in India is pretty scientifically savvy. Aligarh hosts most upto date science departments, at par with national level. And then they, Muslims,  are present at the national level also. Perhaps the ratio of scientific literacy is not upto the desired level number of Muslim scientists per lack of Muslims might not be upto the national level but that is not a big draw back. Science is universal and a small number of scientists can cater to the scientific needs of a society.

At this point we have to break our train of thoughts to address a contingency that will arise in the mind of a reader that is not a Muslim. Are we trying to cook up a a parallel society in India? Another two nation theory? The answer is no. It is like the following. If there is a break of epidemic in the crops grown in hilly areas then the scientific workforce deployed to tackle it is not from the deserts of Rajastan. It is from the same state. Similarly the Muslim Ummah in India is assured by the constitution to indulge in its overall growth including scientific development. And this growth should not be limited to ascertaining the age of Islamic manuscripts.

Once a society is scientifically mature technical development, though not immediate, is very close at hand. Efforts in that direction are required and Aligarh community should take up this task at priority basis because we live in a world were technical developments are rather fast paced and even most developed societies find it difficult to keep up with the rest of the world.

Yes, even Aligarh Movement has to thing in global terms for we live in a global village.

Industrial, financial and economic rejuvenation is a result of above all factors. Of course this too has to be activated by intellectual input and the departments of economics, commerce, business and management have enough work force to sit down and think of a vision for the Ummah in India and devise ways to implement that vision.

As usual any thing can be done effectively if there is a leader at the helm of the affairs. In mu humble view the head of the university is not an appropriate person to be entrusted with this task. Head of the university holds a job that demands full time attention.

May I humbly propose that we Aligs devise a mechanism to elect a head of Aligarh Movement whose task will be to implement the operative part of Sir Syed's vision as outlines above? This piece is not a self-serving rhetoric and hence yours truly is not in the fray.

I shall end this note with a warning. God warns us that if we do not take up the due responsibility then He will raise a people who will. And they will not be like us. Our brothers from south India have been doing wonderful things for quite some time. If they do take the lead in these matters we would be morally bound to follow them. I shall not be complaining if that comes to a pass.

Friday, October 4, 2013

I Want to Fume

I want to fume at west.
Many will say that I do that often.
I agree.
The point is that no one else is taking up the task with yours truly.
Everyone from the rest should be doing the same.
That way there is a chance of getting heard.

So, anyway, what is the provocation this time?
This is the euthanasia death of a person who could not bear the consequences of a sex change.

Euthanasia is not allowed in Islam so that point is absolutely clear.
The irksome part is the sex change part.

Why are they experimenting randomly with sex?
If you are a man, good.
If you are a woman, good.
The rest is not a grace from God.
To say the least.
And it should be taken as such.
Sure, do whatever you can do to change the situation.
But overly experimenting with what God has willed is too much.

Assassination of Another Iranian Expert

According to the Telegraph :
Mojtaba Ahmadi, who served as commander of the Cyber War Headquarters, was found dead in a wooded area near the town of Karaj, north-west of the capital, Tehran. Five Iranian nuclear scientists and the head of the country’s ballistic missile programme have been killed since 2007. The regime has accused Israel’s external intelligence agency, the Mossad, of carrying out these assassinations.