The women in black

If you understand Urdu then please watch the video below

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Female students of Jamia Hafsa seminary, backed by male students of other Madrassas, prevailed on the Islamabad police after a day long showdown here on Wednesday.
The trouble started when the seminary students and teachers, supported by their patrons in Lal Masjid, decided to take the “community correction role� in their hands and kidnapped an old woman, her young daughter and daughter-in-law on Tuesday night blaming them for “immoral activities� in the area.[Source]

I firmly believe that forcing shariah laws down people’s throat is definitely not acceptable. The argument of the above group was that Pakistan was formed on Islamic principles so why its still to adopt complete shariah laws? As far as my knowledge about Pakistan is concerned, the society is divided between the high non-pious class and the ultra-conservative lower class (based on economic divide) so that implies there is no middle class dominance. The rich keep growing richer, and also away from religion, and the lower class keeps falling into the deep chasm of poverty, it uses religion to satiate itself that they one day everyone will be judged on religious deeds and not worldly wealth. This cry for the implementation of ardent laws will leave the society in shatters as the non-pious class cannot come to terms with the ardent laws. This is what happened in Afghanistan when the Taliban were in power; people were forced to pray in mosques and even beaten for this, public execution of culprits which was heavily criticized by the western media as barbaric, restriction of TV,movies and any sort of entertainment. What did they achieve by these? People becoming embittered against the regime and ready to leave the country at earliest given opportunity!

I firmly believe that in this present day world shariah laws cannot be enforced on people because Muslim society in general has diverted away from religion. Concepts which invite death punishment in Islam are now acceptable in many cultures, like live in relationships and extra marital affairs. Westernisation has deeply affected Muslims of all culture alike for reasons which I am not going to delve into here. You cannot amend mistakes by imposing strict laws now. This is actually a way to avoid the complexities involved in bringing the society back to religion.

The current situation requires the Muslim countries to rethink their strategies. I am not asking for a total change in laws so as to make in west compatible but a gradual implementation of shariah so that the inhabitants don’t feel the pinch. Muslims who settled in the western world can be a role model for us. There were certain things in Islam which were pushed to a level where it left a thin line between Islamic laws and western laws. Concepts like women empowerment, freedom of expression and entertainment had to be rethought of by Muslims in western countries to accommodate western way of life. Its not that these concepts were alien to Islam but just that Muslims seems to have paid no heed towards them in the Arab world. Islam was constantly under scrutiny and thus it became imperative for the Muslims to shun these voices of dissent arising from within by adjusting and pushing laws to extreme. It became a must for Islam to exist in the modern day world.

Well just to end this discussion, the disease doesn’t lies with Islam but it lies with the Muslims. They have been reduced from kings to beggars, which is something Muslims in general are still to digest, and they should learn to face circumstances which are not ideally suited for shariah laws to exist.

Sadia Dehlvi on Women Sufis of Delhi

Guest contribution by Raza Rumi

Writer, mediaperson and social worker, Sadia Dehlvi, sent this version of her article that was earlier published by the Hindustan Times


“One of my favourite verses of the Quran is Surah Al Azhab which makes it clear that spiritual blessings are intended for both righteous men and women who are equal in the eyes of God. The woman “auliyaâ€? meaning friend of God appeared in the early history of Islam and the dignity of sainthood was conferred on women as much as men. The doctrine of Sufism which seeks Union with God through love and devotion does not leave space for the distinction of sex. Islam has no order of priesthood and nothing prevents a woman from achieving great mystical heights. Sufis themselves have chosen the famed mystic woman Rabia Basri (died 801) as the representative of the first development of mysticism in Islam.

Rabia was consumed by love and desire for God and a famous anecdote explains the Sufi attitude. Rabia was found running while carrying a fire torch in one hand and a pail of water in the other. When people asked the meaning of her actions, the Sufi replied, “I am going to burn paradise with the fire and dampen the fires of Hell with this water so that people love God for the sake of God and not for want of paradise or the fear of Hell.â€?

Among the other early women mystics are Umm Haram whose tomb is in Cyprus, Rabia bint Ismail of Syria, Muadha al Adaiyya of Syria, Nafisa of Mecca, Zainab and Ishi Nili of Persia. These women made major contributions to the vitality and development of Islamic thought. For Sufis, it is the inner purpose of heart that matters and not outward forms. Some amongst Delhi Sufi women are recognized the world over.

Bibi Fatima Sam’s shrine is in Kaka Nagar facing the Oberoi Hotel in Delhi and the tombstone recognizes her title as the Rabia of Delhi. The mystic woman is frequently mentioned in the published discourses of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, who met her when she was alive and continued to visit her shrine for meditation. Commenting on Bibi Fatima’s spiritual status, the Sufi master said “When the lion has come out of the forest ,nobody asks if it is male or female.” She was the adopted sister of my master Baba Farid Ganj e Shaker. Bibi Fatima Sam once told me “ The saints will cast away both worldly and religious blessings to give a piece of bread or a drink of water to someone in need .This is a spiritual state one cannot obtain by one hundred thousand fasts and prayers.â€?

“You may seek love and you may seek soul.
Seek them both, but it won’t be easy.�

It is believed that after her death she appeared in a fellow Sufis dream and said “One day by appointment I went to the revered Lord and passed some angels who asked , “Who are you and why should you be proceeding so carelessly ?� I replied , “I have sworn an oath that I shall not move till God himself summons me�; the wife and the daughter of Prophet Muhammad came and I felt at their feet. They said “Fatima Sam, who is there like you today? God has sent us in search of you.� I said, “I am your slave; but I have sworn an oath.� Then the decree came from God: “ Fatima Sam speaks rightly. You both must depart and leave her alone.� Then I heard God call, “Come to Me, to Me.� I moved and spoke to the lord.

Bibi Zulekha known as Mai Sahiba is the mother of Hazrat Nizam ud din Auliya.
Widowed early, she brought up her son and daughter Bibi Jannat under great hardship earning a living by weaving cloth. When there was nothing to eat in the house, Mai Sahiba would say,� Nizamuddin. Today we are the guests of God�. She explained to the children that God sent down spiritual nourishment which was different than the taste of worldly food.

Mai Sahiba was a pious woman completely devoted to God. One new moon she said, �Nizam! At whose feet shall you put your head next month� The Shaikh with tears in his eyes said,� At whose care shall you entrust me�. “I will tell you tomorrow.� Mai Sahiba replied and directed him to go and sleep in the neighbouring house of Shaikh Najeeb ud din Mutawakkil, Baba Farids brother and disciple. In the early hours of the morning the maid servant rushed to call Mai Sahiba’s son who hurried to the house. She held his right hand and said, “ O God. I entrust him to Thee�. Having said this, Mai Sahiba breathed her last.

Mai Sahiba’s shrine is on Sri Aurobindo Marg earlier known as the Udhchini village. The shrine is visited by hundreds of devotees specially women. It is believed that Mai Sahiba cannot bear the sorrow of a woman and bestows her blessings on them immediately. Whenever in acute distress Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya used to go and pray at his mothers shrine and said his prayers were always answered.

Jahanara ( 1614-1681) daughter of the Emperor Shahjahan, like her brother Dara Shikoh was a Sufi and like him an the author of biographical works on contemporary and historical Sufi saints. Jahanara wrote a biography of her Sufi mentor Mulla Shah as well as a literary biographical account of the famous Sufi of Ajmer, Moin al-Din Chishty (d. 1236). In “ The Confidant of Spirits� the Princess uses the word faqira—the feminine form of faqir—to signify her own spiritual vocation as a Sufi woman.

Jehanara spent many weeks along with her father Shahjehan at Ajmer seeking the blessings of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz. The princess details her spiritual activities at the shrine and her mystical experiences. “ “Praise be to God as I attained the happiness of pilgrimage to the illuminated and perfumed tomb of the revered saving master. I went to the holy sanctuary and rubbed my pale face on the dust of the threshold. From the door-way to the blessed tomb I went barefoot, kissing the ground. Having entered the dome, I went around the light-filled tomb of my master seven times, sweeping it with my eyelashes, and making the sweet-smelling dust of that place the mascara of my eyes.� Of Khwaja she wrote ,

Our Moin ud-Din is annihilated in God,
And after that he subsists in the absolute essence.

The Sufi princess is buried in a small white marble tomb, open to the elements and devoid of any dome opposite her beloved Sufi Hazrat Nizam al-Din Auliya in Delhi. The inscription on her shrine reads as follows :

He is the Living, the Sustaining.
Let no one cover my grave except with greenery,
For this very grass suffices as a tomb cover for the poor.
The annihilated faqira Lady Jahanara,
Disciple of the Lords of Chisht,
Daughter of Shahjahan the Warrior
(May God illuminate his proof).”

The solutions,Story-IV

Part of share your story series. This comes from Soni.

I’m from a orthodox Hindu brahmin family, studied in a Convent school and one of my very good friends in school was a Muslim. It was a paradox I lived with for all my childhood.

The father’s side of the family are the BJP RSS Marathi pride variety. Hardcore in their Hindutva thoughts. The mother’s side (I grew up with her parents) are borderline Hindus, like most modern Hindus. Actually, they are more agnostic than Hindus in terms of their actual attitudes. So yes, i had plenty of opportunities to explore these differing perspectives.

On the father’s side, I was scorned as a child for being educated in a Christian environment and the grandparents blamed for being the “rotâ€? that demines the strength of the Hindu community. Well… relations were excellent, these were only opinions that popped up when such subjects were spoken of. According to them, I should have been studying in one of the famed Hindu – Marathi schools.

The grandfather couldn’t care less as long as I continued to do well in school. On the Muslim front, there was this brat of a girl, who was my friend in mischief (I was no less a brat). Her mother never really spoke with us, and preferred to be in the company of the other Muslim parents, and we hated her, but that had nothing to do with my friend. We were pals. Also the feelings for the mother were more because I felt rejected, than anything she actually did.

There were some more Muslim families in our society. When the riots happened, I remember that we had locked their house and accommodated them in our houses so that they remained safe.

What I am trying to say, is that there was love, there was companionship where possible and there was hate for specific individuals too – like any other relationships. As I grew up, I learnt more about “Muslimsâ€?. The Kashmir, Pakistan and terrorism angles being heavily linked with the religion didn’t do anything to make me like the religion, though my individual relations with Muslims were not affected.

Then, I heard varying interpretations of the Quran being interpreted in ways that support violence and others saying that those interpretations were wrong and that it was actually all about peace. To my straightforward outsiders perspective, things were pretty clear cut – a book doesn’t matter as much as how people understand and act on it and if the actions were evil, it didn’t really matter what the book said, because a book is just so many words on paper, even if they are God’s words. It is its influence on us that holds meaning. Therefore, the equation was simple:

Islam/Muslims = evil, untrustworthy folks and a disease for our country.

But that didn’t ring true either. I knew so many Muslims, and I liked them too – I hadn’t really met one who wanted me dead, so why was I investing in all that hate and contempt? It certainly was disgraceful that Muslims were acting against the interests of the country, but why discount the ones who weren’t? It didn’t seem like a realistic representation.

So the head scratching, thinking and research went on.

To cut a long story short, I think both the Hindus and Muslims make too much out of religion. Religion is your personal belief, your emotional strength or guide – absolutely no reason at all to bring it into public lives.

There are a lot of things I think Muslims need to come to terms with, and a lot of suggestions for the Muslims, the government and the Hindus, if we hope to actually move from talking about harmony to living it. I have no particular priorities, but mentioning the Muslim part first, because this is a Muslim site.

Muslims need to stop expecting the world to live Islam. They need to see that acceptance and harmony is a two way thing. Most Muslims I know are good friends outside the home, but they will not be comfortable with me visiting their homes and even if they are, their families often are not. This needs to change. Approval and acceptance of only Muslims is a prime recipie for getting to be comfortable only with Muslims.

The truth of the matter is that most other Indians hardly know what a Muslim really is. What he thinks like, what he likes, dislikes, approves of, what are his concerns…. and so on. This can only change with an opening and an attempt to reach out.

The other extremely non-appealing thing about Muslims is that most of them are always complaining about being victimised. There is a simple logic for this causing dislike. If I am being accused of victimising someone, when I don’t feel I have done it, I don’t like the accusation and the accuser. Today, if we look at an overall scenario, Muslims in India are not too badly off. Yes there are education problems, there are employment problems and many other problems, but they are actually problems India as a country is facing. There are minorities even smaller than Muslims, yet, the loudest complaint comes from the Muslims.

I amy sound very harsh, but I honestly think there is a serious problem with the Muslim religious leadership in general. If bringing together people needs them to paint a picture of victimization and the need to fight back as a community, it is a very sorry option indeed, as the problems they are yelling about are not limited to them – so why is it such a huge religious issue? It would be far more empowering to use those sermons to fire up the Muslims to get educated and become such tempting employment options that people WANT to take them. Use legal channels, work as a community, motivate people, empower them and encourage friendship – people will want to reach out.

There needs to be willpower to break the vicious cycle of lack of education leading to lack of employment leading to lack of funds leading to lack of education. Seperating themselves as special victims with the implication on the people they claim to want harmony with is certainly no way to promote harmony.

On the government front, I am a total ignorant, but I think the worst possible thing in India is the Quotas they should be abolished. Any community that needs to be supported can be supported through means to acheive, not reserving acheivement. That is empowerment and a far better incentive to improve on quality as well as a justified pride at being on level with the others ad equals. The quotas are themselves a label that the recipients were unworthy of independent merit – is this equality?

It will also automatically remove religious and caste factors from where they don’t belong. The problems will be more uniform across communities. If at all assistance is to be given, if should be support for the acheivement based on annual income and not caste or religion. Take them out of the spotlight if you are really serious about people overcoming them and coming together regardless.

On the other hand, discrimination should be made punishable by law. This in my opinion would be action along the claims of wanting to demolish caste and religious divides.

For the Hindus, the list is rather small, but far more important. They need to wake up and realise that Hinduism is not the only religion in India. Pakistan was created on the basis of religion – not India. They also need to come out of their total Hindu environments and try to understand what this diversity of caste and religion actually means in the context of different individuals living different lives and recognise that their lives, concerns and beliefs are very different, and its ok. It is enriching, not divisive.

Hindus really need to rediscover their own religion for its essence that earned it respect over thousands of years – its tremendous capacity to accommodate and absorb diverse influences.

For the Hindu and Muslim extremists, I have a plain and simple message – shut up! Religion is a lifestyle, not copyrighted to countries or individuals and it is extremely insulting to the religion itself to attempt to do that.

The solutions,Story-III

Part of share your story series

This is not exactly a story but views about the divide. The author wishes to indentify himself as CK.
After thinking about this a while, and interacting with and talking with the various Muslims on what they actually believe with regards to politics, I’ve come to the following conclusions regarding the entire issue we face. First, animosity and violence will wontinue. Hindus and Muslims have a very deep,unresolved set of issues, that play themselves out in terms of periodic violence. This created partition, and the issues have never been resolved, and so they continue, as bad as ever, into the present day. So, short term, everybody suffers, including many innocent people, and the very joy is sapped out of society itself.
Second, long-term, it’s no contest, Islam triumphs and subjugates the Hindu tradiiton once again. Islam has much stronger demographic growth, migration into India (something that will be a growing factor in years to come), a strong and growing missionary impetus (well-funded), a strong desire to convert others, and the full backing of many, many governments throughout the world (in India’s immediate neighborhood, the full lacking of the officially Islamic states of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and others). There are many, many organizations working for this; the IM website talks about ideologies like those of Deoband as though they are something completely benign.

The defense against this is the RSS (an organization that has discredited itself by preaching violence and hatred) and a poorly defined, confused Indian secularism that has politically degenerated. There is no defense at the level of the state, and societal defense is shunned by most on the grounds that it is “un-secular.” So, not much is in the way.

After the conquest and subjugation, I hope we can save at least some of our culture. The Persians were able to save much of their culture, I hope we can save much of ours. I think this will all probably happen about a century or so from now. I hope I’m wrong, but don’t know what to do to stop it.

IM blog Roundup-3

Fellow blogger Adnan has written about why Indian Muslims are away from terrorism. He has raised issues like freedom of expression guaranteed by the democratic setup of the country.

In this democracy you can shout from the rooftop that you have faced bias at any office or any official of any rank has been guilty of partiality. There are a range of commissions where you can complain and media channels and a press that is absolutely free to give your story and tell them your grievances.

Tarana has pointed out the hypocrisy of the Congress by announcing compensation for the riots victims who were denied justice (if they know who have been denied justice then why don’t they take action!)

I am all for compensating riot victims but it is unfortunate that the government can think of them only prior to the Uttar Pradesh elections. Very cleverly, the Congress has tried to attain multiple objectives with this one announcement. One, it is using the taxpayers’ money (which may or may not reach the actual victims) to publicise its own sympathy for the people. Two, it has its eye firmly on the Muslim vote bank in UP. Three, by reminding people of the Gujarat tradegy, it is reiterating the failure of the opposition party, BJP, when it was in power. If only these politicians used their intelligent minds for nobler purposes, we would have been living in a cleaner country.

Comments are working again

I apologize for the glitch which caused the comments to  stop functioning. It was the WWW redirect plugin causing the trouble. Logging in to posts comments has been temporarily disabled because spammers seems to be too concerned for the rights of Indian Muslims. Actually Akismet is marking few genuine comments as spam and it was becoming increasingly difficult to search for genuine comments among 1000 spam comments! I hope that most reader here took Maths at school so the new spam prevention plugin might not be too difficult to get through.

Why Indian Muslims are away from terrorism?

Extremism has gripped Muslims all over the world due to various reasons. The upsurge started in 1700s when Sheikh Abdul Wahab stressed the need to purify Islam of the evil practices it has incorporated in its fold. Saudi Arabia played a detrimental role in the inception of this movement calling for elimination of elements within Islam who have modified the religion. Many scholars of Islam were massacred by the recruits of this newly found movement. Graves were demolished, people were barred from worshipping near the Prophet’s (Peace be upon him) house (the remains were recently demolished by the Saudi government) and any act of innovation in Islam was crushed with iron hands. The followers of Sheikh Wahab are today called as Salafis. They have occupied high positions, and continue to occupy, in the Muslim organizations in the west. They have full political and financial backing from the Saudi government. Their basic ideology calls for return to the basics of Islam and also conversion of as many non-Muslims as possible.

In 1920s Maulana Ilyas (May Allah be pleased with him) started his work of Tabligh, an urdu word which means calling people towards the correct path. The Banglewali Masjid became the headquarters and Mewat, an area spread across Haryana and Rajasthan, became its first testing ground. Even though he was refuted by other learned men, he continued his mission to call Muslims towards Islam. He held the belief that Muslims are suffering because of their own deeds. They need to return to the basics and strictly adhere to the Islamic way of living. The progress was slow initially but now Tabligh has become the biggest religious movement among Muslims. This work has spread from Tokyo to New York and from Australia to Ireland. The Banglewali Masjid is still the headquarter. If you happen to visit Nizamuddin then you will notice the vast variety of people from different nations spread all around the big mosque. The political impact of Tabligh can be gauged from the fact that political leaders including Indra Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi have approached them for support in the polls. As an apolitical organization, Tabligh has always rejected such requests.

People associated with this movement have covered deserts in Africa on foot. They don’t give invitation to non-Muslims but concentrate on Muslims. They don’t, as Salafis, believe that converting others is inevitable for Islam to exist. Tabligh is associated with Deoband, the Islamic school located in UP. Members of Barelvi, another school of Islam located in UP, are opposed to it because of ideological mismatch. In raw terms Barelvis are close to Sufism but Deoband loathes any form of distorted Sufism which includes worshiping at graveyards. Deoband is more rational and open to ideas whereas Barelvis are more orthodox in their approach. They usually come up with inane rulings which have belittled Islam. One of their verdict goes as- if a Barelvi says salaam to a Deobandi then his wife becomes haraam for him, the marriage annulled and they have to remarry!

I mentioned all this background so as to build my case to prove why Indian Muslims have not fallen prey to the extremists. Salafi movement is still to make inroads into India, thanks to strong presence of Deoband and Barelvi school of thought which are essentially accommodative towards non-Muslims. Even though many madarsaas are financed by Saudi, they are sill to impose their Salafi school of thought to them. Both these school of thought are soft towards non-Muslims. This is totally contrary to the ideology terrorist use to justify their killings; a non-Muslim can be killed because he/she will go to hell anyway!

I don’t claim Salafi movement to be entirely responsible for extremism to originate but definitely it served as an incubator. The belligerent attitude that existed among Salafis has translated into global terror. They have not only killed non-Muslims but even Muslims who wanted to reject their ideology. They have ruthlessly suppressed any movement that could challenge its existence in Saudi Arabia. Whereas Deoband and Barelvi have been tolerant towards anti movements. They have shown far greater tolerance towards evil practices that have crept into Islam. They believe in the power of persuasion through words rather than violence. I am sure even with government support these school of thought would never take to extreme ways of dealing with non-believers.

The little support that ‘freedom fighters’ from the across the border generate is due to the internal conflict, the anti-Muslim riots. Kashmir is always projected as a Muslim cause by those fighters. These sporadic incidents cannot categorically prove the involvement of Indian Muslims in terrorism. Plus majority of morons involved in these bomb blasts are from the banana republic with whom, unfortunately, we share our border. Indian Muslims don’t see themselves as global citizens of the Muslim ummah. I have personally observed in almost all cities I have been to, with the possible exception of Hyderabad as a large part of its population find employment abroad and are in touch with Salafi groups working in those countries. Again this is my personal observation and I don’t have any proof of it. It can very well be the hot bed for terrorist activities if the social worker from the Bajrang Dal or RSS try to experiment there Gujarat success there.

The rise and fall of Salafi dawah in the US (in 9 parts) makes an interesting read.

Muslims need a political party

Is the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (JUeH) really becoming a force to reckon with? It has earned laurels in the aftermath of Nandigram violence by championing for the cause of deceased farmers irrespective of religion. The Hindustan Times reports

An un- known force four months back, it is now a force to reckon with. The Jamiat leaders stressed that their aim was not to instigate communal tension. “The situation across the state is such that no one party can fight alone but all anti-CPM forces have to come together, leaving behind their divides,” Chowdhury had told HT recently Panchanan Mondal of Sonachura and Subhas Santra of Khejuri, who lost a son in the firing, said calling the Jamiat “communal” was just an attempt by the CPM to spread misinformation. “In all the meetings the Jamiat conducted at Nandigram, it never spoke just for Muslim farmers but for the farming community as a whole. It has never tried to keep us aside just because we are non-Muslims,” Santra said.

Indian Muslims need a political force. And particularly a force which can appeal to everyone, Hindus and Muslims. The biggest movement among Indian Muslims, Tabligh-e-jamaat, is a non-political organization so the onus is on Jamait-e-Islami and its sister organization to politically elevate themselves. Muslims have had enough of pseudo-secularists and fascists. Its high time that the Muslims top brass gel together as a unit forgetting their differences. Congress has always served as back stabbers and other so called secularists are no good. As a child I have listened to lot of heated discussion,in my family, where people have advocated voting for BJP because of this hypocrisy by the Congress. I have already talked about these sickular parties

CONGRESS MP Rahul Gandhi said on Monday that the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid would not have happened if anybody from the Gandhi family had been at the helm.

I really don’t know about the BJP but a Muslim political party would definitely be a boon. A word of caution-A party not by the radical elements within the community but of rational individuals preferably the youth.