We are reproducing this piece by Mina Malik-Hussain, which appeared in The Nation (Pakistan) as it deals with an important issue which concerns the changes that are taking place within subcontinental Islam. The piece underlines the great cultural battle underway within Islam which, in the final analysis is about being Muslim in many different ways. Mina Malik-Hussain is a feminist based in Lahore.
When we were small, there was a month and it used to be called Ramzan. It was Ramzan on television, it was Ramzan in the newspaper with the sehr-o-iftar timings and while nobody had a cell phone or Facebook to wish anyone, it would have been Ramzan Mubarik nonetheless. Sometimes if one was being quite linguistically adventurous it would be Ramazan, but nobody seemed to mind.
And then, insidiously, The Arabs crept up on us. It wasn’t like the return of Muhammad Bin Qasim, but somehow Ramzan became Ramadan. Nobody knew exactly how it happened, but almost overnight our crisp z’uad sound became a lisping Arab burr, and we—a nation of language speakers with no apparent consonant pronunciation difficulties—were flung into the downward spiral of an affectation obsession. Now it was cool to sound Arab, and soon enough it began to be increasingly desirable to look it. Cue Al Huda, cue our streets being lined with gangly palm trees that do nothing, either in terms of beauty or shade, cue the availability of the most bling Islamic cover-up gear you’ll see this side of Dubai.
Still, as a nation we were still fairly open-minded about this, so we fasted year after year and didn’t really pay attention to the semantics of it. We were busy trying to live our lives and be regular Pakistanis, but The Arabs kept making inroads onto our cultural minds. One year ‘khuda-hafiz’, that old and comfortable way of saying goodbye and Godspeed, became ‘Allah hafiz’ with the dubious reason of having to specify which deity to whose protection one was recommending you. Because here in multi-religious, multi-cultural and secular Pakistan there was actual leeway where one would wonder who exactly Khuda is, and perhaps not want to be entrusted to a pagan god. Some people resisted, and continue to resist Allah hafiz and keep saying khuda-hafiz with the logic and hope that whatever His name, He will still protect and love them. Also if it was good enough for one’s grandfather and great-grandfather, it was just fine for them too. Read the full article here
Even as Israeli bombings and ground attacks on Gaza continue, there are no less disturbing reports of ISIS attacks on Christians, the last of whom are reportedly fleeing Mosul. One of the oldest churches has been attacked and reduced to ashes. The rise of ISIS is not only a danger signal for non Muslim or even non Sunni minorities, it represents one of the most serious threats in recent times to the entire heritage of Islam and the diversity within it as well. We reproduce below a piece by Irfan Al-Alwai argues that Sunni Muslims must reject the ISIS’ new ‘Caliphate’. Irfan Al-Alawi is the executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation and international director of Centre for Islamic Pluralism in the United States. Here are some extracts from the article:
On July 5, the pan-Arab television channel Al-Arabiya, Saudi-owned but based in Dubai, reproduced images of vandalism by the “Islamic State,” using bulldozers against Sunni and Sufi shrines, and dynamite to blow up Shia meeting houses, or husseiniyat, in the Iraqi province of Nineveh, which the marauders seized in June. The pictures were released by the “Islamic State.” Four Sufi shrines and six Shia husseiniyat had been leveled.
In addition, Chaldean Christian and Syrian Orthodox cathedrals in Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province, were found emptied by the fanatics, who removed their crosses then hung black “Islamic State” flags on them.
The “Islamic State,” through its supposed caliph, declared, “rush O Muslims to your state. Yes, it is your state. Rush, because Syria is not for the Syrians, and Iraq is not for the Iraqis. The earth is Allah’s… Muslims everywhere, whoever is capable of performing hijrah [emigration] to the Islamic State, then let him do so, because hijrah to the land of Islam is obligatory… We make a special call to the scholars, fuqahā’ [experts in Islamic jurisprudence], and callers [to religion], especially the judges, as well as people with military, administrative, and service expertise, and medical doctors and engineers of all different specializations and fields… their emigration is wājib ‘aynī [an individual obligation], so that they can answer the dire need of the Muslims for them.”
This demand reveals the cynical nature of the “Islamic State” and its bid for jurisdiction over all Sunnis. Although it has seized parts of Syria and Iraq, it cannot defeat the bloodthirsty regime of Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus, and it certainly cannot protect Muslims in Burma. Regardless of its bluster, it cannot “conquer Rome,” as it threatens. Therefore, the “caliph” pleads for a supposed religious duty by Sunnis throughout the world to travel to the “Islamic State” and reinforce it. Read the full article here.
This correspondence has been received from Mads Gilbert
The last night was extreme. The “ground invasion” of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying – all sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent.
The heroes in the ambulances and in all of Gaza’s hospitals are working 12-24hrs shifts, grey from fatigue and inhuman workloads (without payment all in Shifa for the last 4 months), they care, triage, try to understand the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans. HUMANS! Now, once more treated like animals by “the most moral army in the world” (sic!).
My respect for the wounded is endless, in their contained determination in the midst of pain, agony and shock; my admiration for the staff and volunteers is endless, my closeness to the Palestinian “sumud” gives me strength, although in glimpses I just want to scream, hold someone tight, cry, smell the skin and hair of the warm child, covered in blood, protect ourselves in an endless embrace – but we cannot afford that, nor can they. Read more…
Rebel against the Occupation. No–it is forbidden for us to rule over another people, to oppress another [people]. The most important thing is to achieve peace and an end to the cycle of blood[letting]. My generation dreamed of peace. I so want to achieve it. You have the power to help. All my hopes are with you. If only [you could]. - Chavka Fulman-Raban, arrested and imprisoned at Auschwitz, two of her family members died as resistance fighters.
Last year, long before this current round of blood-lust, Chavka Fulman-Raban, among the last of the Warsaw Ghetto survivors delivered, On Yom Ha-Shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), “a fierce denunciation of evil and injustice, including the Israeli Occupation. Her speech was offered to guests at the ceremony of Beit Lohamey Ha-Getaot (the Ghetto-Fighters House)”, says Richard Silverstein, who has translated the speech into English.
The once-invincible Nazism did not last. Zionazism too will not last, however invincible it might appear today. And we must say it loud and clear: Zionism is not about Jews and Judaism. To oppose Zionism is not anti-Semitism. As if this simple fact needs to be stated. But it seems it does, over and over again. Just as Judith Butler had to recently, contesting Lawrence Summers, President, Harvard University. So virulent is the mobilization of the Zionist fascists, especially inside Israel, that what David Shulman recently referred to as “lynch gangs” and “organized fascist groups”, have been on the prowl attacking, killing Palestinians and protestors against the bombings. And cheering the lynch mobs and fascists gangs are spectators of the kind we see below:
It was probably late sixties or early seventies – when this pen pusher was a school student – one came across an article by a gentleman called P N Oak in a Marathi magazine called ‘Amrit’. The article made a particular case about Taj Mahal which it termed as ‘Tejo Maha Aalay’ or hindu god Shiva’s abode. It tried to establish through various ‘explanations’ that a Shiva Temple was destroyed to build Taj Mahal and if we dig deep we can find ‘remnants’ of the earlier structure.
For someone who was taught in an ambience, where few of our teachers never lost any opportunity to fill our gullible minds about the ‘hated other’, it was rather difficult to immediately grasp the lie which was peddled by this soldier turned writer. Nobody could then have the premonition also that such false claims – that their places of worship were buried beneath the Mosques as a lame excuse to demolish them – would become order of the day, in Hindutva politics. Read more…
Guest post by TEESTA SETALVAD
I do not expect there to be any outrage, comment or protest over the most recent rants of Ashok Singhal, senior RSS leader and patron of the Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an RSS offshoot in an interview published in the July 17,2014 of The Hindustan Times daily. We have as a nation and a polity become sinisterly and compliantly accustomed and accepting of aggressive hatred spilt by the majority and hypocritically touchy and outraged by similar rantings by so-called leaders of the minority. How deep this hypocrisy of majoritarianism has spread is evident in the coverage and depiction of hate speech by our electronic media that picks and chooses what to show, how often and when. So the hate ridden rantings of an Owaisi, or a Qader Rana will be run and re-run across networks and channels but equally insidious and as or more dangerous ravings of politicians who play on the identity of the majority are glossed over, hidden and remarkably, not even commented upon.
Singhal tells us through this interview today, that he welcomes with all his heart the first RSS pracharak as Prime Minister of India but, adding the proverbial sting to the tale, says that what is truly historical and remarkable about NDA II’s victory is that this electoral win was ensured without Muslim votes or support. Barefacedly lending voice to what more sophisticated faces in government including the now maun PM would presently rather leave unsaid, Singhal gloats on the disenfranchisement of India’s largest minority during democratically conducted elections. A time-tested tactic of the octopus-like sangh that generates terror and intimidation in the public sphere by the mutterings of a Singhal and a Togadia and allows the flag bearer beneficiaries of this hate-splitting in governance, the luxuries of convenient, intermittent, silences. The Advani-Vajpayee duo in the first NDA were a fine example of this. [Though, Advani often relapsed into expressing well trained views especially after the brutal burning alive of Graham Staines and his sons (Orissa, January 1999).] NDA II has witnessed some interesting role reversals with many of the flag bearers of hate mongering now at the helm: a cabinet full of hate mongers are in the government’s driving seat. Singhal also emphasises and welcomes – undoubtedly for the reassurance of the sangh support base — all those being chosen for post of Governors are sanghis, Ram Naik or a Kesari Nath Tripathi. Read more…