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Archive for May, 2010

Ah! Professor Fred Halliday dies untimely death at 64.

Monday, May 31st, 2010

It was only a day or two ago that I learnt of the death in April of a great scholar of Islam and its relations with the West, Fred Halliday, Professor of international relations and Middle East politics at the London School of Economics. He was opposed equally to the critics of Islam in the West, who condemn Islam for preaching intolerance, oppression and violence, and to Islamic fundamentalists who approve of the same image of Islam. He was the voice of reason and true understanding, but was passionate and forthright about his rational views.

As someone writes, one of his books “repudiating the idea of a clash between Western and Islamic civilisations, has provoked hostile reaction from both Muslim and non-Muslims”. I am sure you can guess which type of Muslims and non-Muslims these would be.

See his obituary in The Times, London, here.

There is one in the Daily Telegraph, illustrating more clearly what I mean. The link to it is here but unfortunately the obituary is followed by a comment from a bigoted reader who is suffering from a deep malice against Islam, and indulges in false anti-Islamic propaganda.

At this link is an interview with Prof Halliday, which will give you a good idea about his views. For example:

“The dogmatic image of Islam, which is both projected by the enemies of Islam and enforced by fundamentalists, is false to the great richness of Islamic tradition.”

“The reason in my view why fundamentalism has made such an advance here in Europe is because people [meaning Muslims in Europe] are not educated and literate in their own history and culture.”

“People who don’t like Muslims say ‘Islam can’t be democratic’ and certain Muslim rulers say ‘this is a Western system, we don’t want it’ – but it’s got nothing to do with Islam. … I don’t see democracy or human rights conflicting with Muslim culture.”

I first saw Prof Halliday in a TV panel discussion in the early 1980s. Appearing also was one Kalim Siddiqui, a UK Muslim scholar and fundamentalist supporter. Siddiqui said that things had gone wrong in the West since the age of reason began 500 years ago because people no longer accepted religious teachings obediently without question.

Fred Halliday was enraged by this comment. He replied something like: I am proud of the age of reason, and I know you don’t represent Islam, and I look forward to the day when Muslims, exercising reason, throw mullahs like you out of politics.

Yes, Fred Halliday did not mince his words. He will be missed terribly by all those non-Muslims who don’t demonise Islam and all those Muslims who know that the Mullahs have perverted the teachings of Islam in order to gain power over the Muslim masses.

by Zahid Aziz, admirer of Professor Fred Halliday.

AAIIL Press Release on Lahore mosque attacks

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

29th May 2010

Yesterday, two mosques of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat of Rabwah (Qadian), in Lahore, were attacked brutally by terrorists, which has taken more than a hundred innocent lives.

We strongly condemn this cowardly act of terrorism which is inhuman in its nature. We strongly believe that life of each human being is sacred and no one has the right to shed blood in this cruel manner.

We pray that may Allah enter all the martyrs in Paradise and may they be among the successful ones. We sympathise with the families who have lost their near and dear ones.

We, the members of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i Islam Lahore (Lahori Ahmadis), stand with Jamaat-e Rabwah in this time of trial and pray that may Allah keep them safe for all times to come.

Amir Aziz,
General Secretary,
Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i Islam Lahore

Qadiani Jamaat mosques attacked in Lahore, many killed. Explosions heard by worshippers in our Darus Salaam.

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Today, Friday 28th May, gunmen attacked Qadiani Jamaat mosques in
Model Town and Garhi Shahu in Lahore. See:

Our own Jamaat members in Darus Salaam for Jumua prayers heard the explosions from Model Town. The gathering had to be sent home. Our members are safe but extremely worried.

Please pray that all remain safe.

See also:

Message from General-Secretary of AAIIL in Lahore

Dear brothers and sisters
Assalamu Alaikum

We would like to inform you that yesterday’s attacks on Ahmadiyya mosques were on Qadiani jamaat’s mosques in Lahore. All our members are safe with the blessings of Allah.

We condemn these attacks and this cowardly act which has taken lives of a hundred innocent people. All members are requested to keep on praying for us.

Yours truly,
Amir Aziz
General Secretary

Reinterpreting the Holy Quran

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Submitted by Rashid Jahangiri.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad sahib under divine guidance reinterpreted Holy Quran i.e. death of Jesus. This encouraged his followers starting from Maulana Noor Ud Din to Maulana Muhammad Ali and others to continue the tradition to better understand Holy Quran. As a result today’s interpretation of Holy Quran published by those who accept HMGA as Mujaddid of 14th Islamic Century is very palatable than the previous interpretation.

The reinterpretation of Holy Quran is not limited to HMGA followers but has also influenced modern commentators of Holy Quran, including people like Marmaduke Pickthall, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Muhammad Asad, Dr. Shabbir Ahmad. This idea of reinterpreting Holy Quran has started to permeate among Muslims as evidenced by article on Pak Tea House blog. Unfortunately, Muslims have started to give thought to reinterpret HQ under current domestic and global political situations. Had this thought given importance earlier, may be Pakistani Muslims could have avoided current fiasco in their country:

Rethinking Islam
By Ziauddin Sardar

“We have failed to respond to the summons to ijtihad for some very profound reasons. Prime amongst these is the fact that the context of our sacred texts the Quran and the examples of the Prophet Muhammad, our absolute frame of reference has been frozen in history. One can only have an interpretative relationship with a text even more so if the text is perceived to be eternal. But if the interpretative context of the text is never our context, not our own time, then its interpretation can hardly have any real meaning or significance for us as we are now. Historic interpretations constantly drag us back to history, to frozen and ossified context of long ago; worse, to perceived and romanticised contexts that have not even existed in history. This is why while Muslims have a strong emotional attachment to Islam, Islam per se, as a worldview and system of ethics, has little or no direct relevance to their daily lives apart from the obvious concerns of rituals and worship. Ijtihad and fresh thinking have not been possible because there is no context within which they can actually take place.”

“The freezing of interpretation, the closure of the gates of ijtihad, has had a devastating effect on Muslim thought and action. In particular, it has produced what I can only describe as three metaphysical catastrophes: the elevation of the Shariah to the level of the Divine, with the consequent removal of agency from the believers, and the equation of Islam with the State. Let me elaborate.”

“As such, the Shariah is a problem-solving methodology rather than law (1). It requires the believers to exert themselves and constantly reinterpret the Quran and look at the life of the Prophet Muhammad with ever changing fresh eyes. Indeed, the Quran has to be reinterpreted from epoch to epoch which means the Shariah, and by extension Islam itself, has to be reformulated with changing contexts (2). The only thing that remains constant in Islam is the text of the Quran itself its concepts providing the anchor for ever changing interpretations.”

See this link

“Quran gives no immunity, stresses justice for all” [Pak tribune]

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Submitted by Ikram.

Quran gives no immunity, stresses justice for all [Pak Tribune]

– “Now that the ‘revelation’ of ruling PPP’s Central Information Secretary Fauzia Wahab that there was no constitution in the era of Hazrat Omar (RA) has ignited a new debate in Pakistan’s religious and legal circles, a thorough research of Islamic jurisprudence on the concept of equality and justice reveals that the Holy Quran had provided complete guidelines in this context over 1,400 years ago.”

– “It has also been reported on the authority of Abdullah Ibn-e-Zubayr in the famous Hadith book Abu Dawood, “The Messenger of Allah has ordered that the two disputing parties should sit before a judge.”

– “Therefore, any citizen whether Muslim or non-Muslim, must be brought before a judicial court and the case must be investigated by a judge.” [Excerpts]

Above is a very poignant essay about Justice in Islam. The issue arose after Secretary Information Pakistan People’s Party Fauzia Wahab came to defense of the Pakistan President by emphasizing the guidelines of Constitution whereas the Clergy in Pakistan emphasizes the Quran e.g. Mufti Naeem stated “…it is wrong to believe for a Muslim that there was only Holy Quran in the past era and now there is only a Constitution.” [Religious scholars slam Fauzia Wahab’s views – The News]

See for yourselves the double bind of the same PPP and the Mullahs who declared Ahmadis non-muslims in 1974 and were mutually proud to make tall claims i.e. Z.A. Bhutto claiming to solve the “the hundred year Ahmadi problem” and Mullahs claiming for themselves the huge success of ingraining their fatwas in the Constitution of the state. Lets not forget that both PPP and Mullahs circumvented the due judical process and investigation by a neutral judge.

Question to PPP and Mullahs: Are you willing to re-consider the clauses in the Constitution about Ahmadis and make Quran the sole basis of Justice especially in the matters of Religion?

Before they answer, I would like to draw their attention to how they gave short measure to Ahmadis then, and now that the argument is mutually between them, each is trying to short justice the other, i.e. PPP emphasizing The Constitution and Mullahs the The Quran. Quran is very clear in its admonishment about such double standards:

83:1. Woe be to those who make a default in any of their duties and give short measure.

83:2. When they receive measure from other people they receive in full (not allowing the least shortage and loss),

83:3. But when they give by measure to others or weigh to them they give them less (than what is due).

83:4. Do not such people realize that they will be raised (to life again),

83:5. To face (and hear the Judgment of) that Great Day?

83:6. The Day when mankind shall stand before the Lord of the worlds?

83:7. Nay, (not at all as they believe) the record of (the deeds) of the wicked is in Sijjîn (- the register of a prison)

83:8. What should make you know what that Sijjîn is?

83:9. (It is) a book written (distinctly and comprehensively).

83:10. On that Day woe shall befall those who belie (the truth);

83:11. Those that belie the Day of Requital.

83:12. No one can treat it as a lie except every sinful transgressor,

83:13. (Who) when Our Messages are recited to him says, `(These are) mere fables of the ancients.’

83:14. Nay (not at all so), the truth is that their (evil) deeds have rusted their hearts.

83:15. Nay (We repeat, not at all so). Verily, they shall be debarred from (the sight and mercy of) their Lord that day.

83:16. Then they shall surely enter into the flaming Fire,

83:17. Then it shall be said (to them), `This is that (very punishment) which you used to cry lies to.’

[The Holy Quran – Nooruddin]

Dilemma of a Modern Muslim Mind

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Submitted by Rashid Jahangiri

Modern Muslims living in free societies of Europe and Americas are coming up with questions that were at least asked over 100 years ago. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad sahib and his companions answered it then.

On Pakistan Tea House blog, an article ‘The Journey of a Pakistani Muslim’ by Omar K (based in United Kingdom) writes:

“It was “If God created the world then who created God?” and “Why does he need to be worshiped for doing acts which occur to him naturally?” This was really the start of a very doubtful journey through Islam which would eventually make me into the person I am today. I would ask the “naive” question about who created God and was always told to remember Surah Ikhlas and Ayat-ul-Kursi. This would apparently answer my query. From what I could recall I was told that the question was the wrong type of question to ask and that I had to re-adjust my perspective. That question was never answered.”

“What I also did was in the disguise of this relative I would email questions to very well known and respected Muslim scholars in the west. So in a way I was trying to alleviate my doubts in a covert way. Sometimes they would respond and sometimes they wouldn’t. I even went out to see the scholars thinking that if I saw the best of them my doubts would be resolved. What I did find in the answering technique was that I was either told that the premise of the question was incorrect and that I was using the wrong terminology such as being “objective” or that my questioning had no basis in reality and that the questions that I was posing were really questions to which “I” knew there were no answers to, or better still my questions were circumvented and instead rather than answering the question directly, I was answered with a question to go back and ask my relative. I would humbly go away feeling numb and empty thinking that I’d been snubbed but nevertheless giving the scholar the benefit of the doubt. I also started reading and listening to scholars such as Hamza Yusuf and others like him hoping that my answers would be in their writing and talks. I did realise soon enough that their writing and talks were fairly much preaching to the choir.”

“The mistake I made at this time was shutting out material evolution and all the arguments and books against the existence of God because I didn’t want anymore doubt to penetrate and do more damage. I wanted to resolve the issue and be able to believe. I concentrated on Islamic sources and it was there that I found that Islam was not as water tight as what I was led to believe. There were two things I found and it was the scholars were always doing apologetics and squaring the circle to justify the absurdities written in the hadith and the events in the sura.”

“There were also issues of abrogation and technicalities which for a religion that was claiming to be the “final” and unalterable word of God was posing more questions for me than it was answering. There were many other things regarding Islam that were simply left unanswered. My friends thought that I was barking up the wrong tree and that I should “trust” the scholars’ hard work and piety. This just didn’t answer the question and I immediately thought that this is the same excuse that the Christians use, so why should I take this excuse from the Muslims? Using excuses like Imam Bukhari prayed before adding the hadith into his collection was simply begging the question and thinking along those lines didn’t cut it in the academic world.”

“I eventually realised that my real problem was the existence of God…”

“I still read works like this and other ideas now that I have freed myself from Islam.”

Read at this link.

Deobandi conference on militancy

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Submitted by Usman.

Recently a large gathering of “Ulemas” organised by the Deoband school took place in Lahore. The issue was the rise of militancy and terrorism. The following quote from an editorial in the Dawn Newspaper (4th May 2010) of Pakistan commenting on the conference is telling and sadly not surprising; highlighting the the rapidly shrinking space for the moderate voices in Islam.

Of course we can trace this back to when the Ahmadiyya movement took up the banner of reforming Islam by going back to its roots but was rejected by the Mullahs. Sadly in Pakistan despite being under the attack of militants, the authorities have no issues with the rabid Mullahs openly projecting hate. I guess the only encouragement is that in the West Muslims are coming around to the Ahmadiyya point of view. In Pakistan now is a golden moment for the leaders to take out the extreme voices because the public is quite sick of the militants and the Mullahs. Unfortuantely this is not happening and I think this is due to the fear of the Mullah that politicians have, and once again we can trace this back to anti-Ahmadi legislations when the rot already setting in was sanctioned and institutionalised by the state.

“But when a group of religious leaders comes together to discuss the issue of militancy, it is odd, to say the least, that it can find a voice to condemn everyone other than the militants themselves. Of course, not all those who attended the Deobandi conference in Lahore could be labelled as extremists. Indeed, observers have noted that ‘moderate’ voices were present, but in the end they were perhaps too intimidated by the hardliners in attendance to speak their minds.”

Read article here.

Connection between physical cleansing and moral purity

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Here is some interesting research on the effect of washing of hands on one’s moral and mental attitudes:

“Cleanliness is Next to Self-Righteousness”

Muslims have started to take a rational approach

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Submitted by Rashid Jahangiri.

The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement takes pride in presenting Islam and its injunctions based on rationality and reason. We LAM members are very glad to see that now even our opponent Muslims are also taking this path, although they are taking it under the global political situation. Following quote from Al Jazeera English article supports my point:

Quote–Shah says that more Muslims are planning on casting a vote on May 6 than in any previous UK election, with concerns over whether voting is consistent with Islamic faith becoming a thing of the past.

“There have been record numbers of people of all backgrounds registering to vote,” he said.

“We have detected that the Muslim community here is becoming increasingly politicised. The vast majority of Muslims now believe that voting is permissible.”—Unquote.

UK-Muslims ‘backing Lib Dems’
By Andrew Wander
See this link.

Abdul Aziz Shora of Kashmir Passes away

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Death of veteran Lahore Ahmadi journalist
Authority and reseacher into tomb of Jesus in Kashmir
Asked Quaid-i Azam at press conference “Who is a Muslim”

Obituary by Dr Khurshid Alam Tareen

With great sorrow and grief I am to inform you that one of the founding members of AAIIL (Kashmir) Mr Abdul Aziz Shora Alias Aziz Kashmir breathed his last on April 27, 2010 in SMHS Hospital after a brief illness. Mr Shora was 90 years old, and was born in 1919. He is survived by six sons and one daughter.

He joined journalism at the age of 19. Initially he worked with Urdu weekly ‘Al-Baraq’ and also with Khalsa Gazette. He founded Urdu paper Roshani in 1943, which was a weekly in the beginning but has come out as State’s reputed daily.

Mr Shora hailed from an Ahmadi Family. He had very strong convictions for the jamaat. When Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali appealed Ahmadi youth to come forward and get enrolled in Mubaligh Class. He also joined as an honorary member of the class. He was the only young man with a clean shave, all other members had beard. One of the old members questioned Late Hazrat Amir, Sir isn’t this a class of Ahmadiyya Mubalighs? He wanted to highlight the non-existence of Shora Sahib’s beard. To his question Hazrat Amir Replied aren’t you one of them?

Shora Sahib’s paper regularly published articles on Islam and Ahmadiyyat. He wanted to give this paper to Jamaat, but Jamaat didn’t have funds to run it. Hazrat Amir suggested that let Shora Sahib run the paper of his own since he is also spreading the light of Ahmadiyyat so Jamaat will give him some financial help. This was given in the shape of books.

Because of his sincerity and hard work he was chosen as General Secretary to the Press Forum of Jammu & Kashmir. Just before partition of India Hazrat Qaid-e-Azam Mr Muhammad Ali Jinnah spent his holidays in Srinagar. The press people wanted to interview the Qaid. Mr Shora was also among the journalists who met the Qaid. Maulana Zafar Ali Khan and his Ahrari counterparts had put a demand that Ahmadis should be declared Kafirs, and as such shouldn’t be allowed membership in Muslim League. Mr Shora posed same question to the Qaid-e-Azam to which he replied in English:

“What right I have to declare a person non-Muslim when he claims to be a Muslim. Any body who wants to get enrolled in Muslim League can do so irrespective of caste and creed.”

This interview was published in almost all leading papers of India including “Inqilaab” of Lahore. When Pakistan Assembly declared Ahmadis as Non-Muslims in 1973, the same article was reprinted in both Roshani and Paigham-e-Sulah Lahore.

Mr Shora Sahib was well read and had very good aptitude for research work. He also helped Khawja Nazir Ahmad during compilation of his monumental book “Jesus in Heaven on Earth.” Mr Kashmiri published his individual research as an independent venture under the title “Masi Kashmir Mein”, which was later translated into English with lot of new material. This English version bears the title “Christ in Kashmir.” This book has undergone several editions so far. He was acknowledged as a living authority on the Tomb of Jesus Christ at Rozabal Srinagar.

All the researchers who have worked on this subject met Mr Shora without fail. BBC team which was working on the Rozabal Tomb made a documentary of their research. YouTube has a video clip of the same, in which Mr Shora has been referred as an authority on the subject.

Mr Shora Sahib’s demise is great loss to Kashmir and Lahore Jamaat. May Allah bless his soul and grant him Jannat al-firdos. All Jamaat’s are requested to offer Namaaz Janaza for this noble soul.