Ramadan series: Nisa’

I have become a minority in my house today. Five females have taken over the house and I don’t mind it at all. They are gracious enough to let me have my space and peace.

Waiting for iftar in Delhi’s Jama Masjid. Photo by Md. Ali

Surah Nisa’ opens with this line:
“O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah , through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.”

Allah has created the two gendesr different but complementing each other. Life will not be complete without mothers, sisters, and daughters. We love them and respect them and that’s why the worst thing you can do to a man is to speak ill of his mother, sister, or daughter. But then why do we think that our female relatives deserve all honors and respects but other can be dishonored at will or we have a right to abuse females?

Let’s respect all females.

Women Empowerment: A Different Perspective

By Shahidur Rashid Talukdar,

Here is the paradox. In one hand, we have ladies leading our countries and on the other hand, we are not even letting others see the face of the earth. Based on the declining sex ratio, a recent study has predicted that by 2020 India will experience twenty percent more males than females! This is the worst possible discrimination that we can inflict on women. We are denying them their right to be born!

From times immemorial, women have been at the receiving end of both joy as well as misery. In mythology, we idolize them and in our temples, some of us, worship them. At home, we love and respect them as mothers and sisters. In our youth, we dream about them. We admire them for their beauty and grace. The list goes on. However, the reality says, despite all these nicest feelings from our side, women are still oppressed! Our collective love, respect, and admiration fail to give them a place in the society they truly deserve! Is not it ironic? Individually, all of us seem to be or at least, pose to be, nice guys: quite benevolent to our female counterparts. Where is the mismatch, then?

Well, however, we pose ourselves but the truth is that the society has, by and large, been patriarchal. Over history of time, across the geography of the world, as I am not sure about the rest of the universe, policies have favored male supremacy. Encompassing all the frameworks of religious, social, and political spheres, we have devised policies that give us a greater pleasure, better position, more power, higher degree of freedom, and better share of opportunities. The consequences of our policies now we can see in our vicinity. I am not endeavoring to go for analysis of communities or scriptures, as it is none of my objective here to describe who did what, which religion suppressed women more and which gave them more rights.

Women in Islam

However, recently there has been considerable debates about ‘can Islam liberate women or not’, but the outcome, as usual, is blurred. Though the scriptures give a certain degree of rights, the practice of the followers i.e. the Muslims are significantly different from the scriptures. Although some of the greatest crimes against women such as female infanticide are less prevalent in Muslim societies, honor killings fill the gap. In practice, Muslims follow their scriptures fairly selectively. And above all, there has been little effort to look into the implied meaning of the scriptures rather than the literal. So ultimately, it becomes another phase of the same old story.

Women and the West

Although every society has had its share of discrimination against women, the west seems to be swiftly embracing the changing landscape of women’s participation in nearly all spheres of life, although with some if’s and but’s. Even though women are quite visible in the public arena, the participation is far from a true empowerment. In most offices, the ladies embellish the reception counters or fill the clerical posts while the men in the office occupy the powerful positions. For the same work, the females continue to receive significantly less salaries compared to their male counterparts. Women candidates are still not the best fit for politics. Leaving the west aside, the picture is quite bleak in India and much of the South East Asia.

However, we are making some small progress, at least. Now women have voting rights almost everywhere in the democratic world. They are quite visible in the streets, universities, and offices which was not the case in past. The progress is slow, though, as the age old menace can’t be solved in a day. So the process will take its time. Meanwhile, we should ensure that the progress is being made in the right direction.

Theoretically, we have moved upward from participation of women to empowerment via emancipation. But practically, can we say a lot has changed? The practical indicators such as domestic violence, eve-teasing, female feticide or infanticide, or dowry death do not reflect much of improvement in this regard.

Failed notions of women empowerment

The barest notion of empowerment would include dimensions such as Health, Education, Mobility, Financial Freedom, Political Space, and Freedom of Choice. But here is one question that pops up in my mind. Does these aforesaid suffice? And I find the answer, no. All these measures don’t give women the status they deserve. They need and deserve something more!


Let’s analyze why and how these measures fail to empower a woman. Education is supposed to address majority of these issues. However, an educated woman is also a woman, right! Can’t she be married with someone by everyone else’s choice regardless of whether she likes it or not? Yes, it can be. On the pretext of caste, religion, status or tribe, she can be sacrificed. Can’t she be confined within the four walls of her household? Yes, pretty much. Does education give her financial freedom? Only to a certain extent. She might get a job, but her salary may not be commensurate with her qualification. Studies have found that women, on an average, earn ten to fifty percent less than their male counterparts. Further, does she have the autonomy to spend from her earnings? Well, the in-laws might not like it! The financial freedom of women is not even welcome in many societies. The conservatives in Bangladesh grumble over their declining grip on the womenfolk because of the latters’ financial independence with the help of Grameen Bank.

Financial advancement

Not only that women’s financial advancement is not just envy-free, it has its associated cost. In most cases, the working women are not free from their household responsibilities. So they have to shoulder a double burden. Even after that do they get their due? Usually not. The story is pretty similar among the rural and poor women as well. They work both in the fields and at home. But, being women, they remain sub-credited in both. The marginal gain in credit is less than the additional burden of responsibilities they have to carry out. Thus education and earning capacity do alter the situation but does not necessarily ameliorate it for the women. In some cases, these improvements have positive effects in women’s lives whereas in some other cases, ironically, the situation is exacerbated by multiplying the burden of work for them and not earning the womenfolk enough of credit.


As far as women’s mobility is concerned, surely the educated and independent women enjoy a greater mobility than others but do they enjoy a sense of security as well? There have been reports of harassment of the members of the very team formed for the prevention of eve-teasing! So practically nothing can bring immunity to women’s insecurities and sufferings in public places. Can we call it empowerment?

Freedom of choice

Last but not the least, freedom of choice remains yet another void in the social space for women. From the choice of school to the choice of subject, from the choice of dress code to the choice of life partner, nearly everything is decided by others. If the choice of others reflects the preference of the lady under consideration then it’s well and good but the problem is when the choice of others goes against her will and she is bound to accept that too. Unfortunately, the latter happens quite often regardless of the girls’ educational and financial status.

This is something so deeply ingrained in our societies that we hardly can notice it. In some cases, women are forced to cover themselves up, while in other cases, the man made, established norms make them reveal, ensuring enough access into their body parts to the male eyes, what they would not have revealed otherwise. Flashing in sleeveless and shorts during cold winter is a part of the norm for women when men are cozying wrapped in warm cloths. Is it liberating? Quite often the reverse also happens. When women chose not to reveal themselves, we force them to reveal. We go even to the extent of making it illegal for them to pursue their choice. So we end up curbing the very freedom we claim to ensure. Both these enforcements hinder the freedom of choice. And hence, both deserve equal condemnation. However much is achieved, if the basic freedom of choice is not provided, women will remain far from being empowered.

Political empowerment

The political empowerment is viewed as an empowering tool for women. However, this can also go against them. The parliamentary bill by the Government of India to ensure that at least one third of the parliamentarians would be female has been experiencing a bitter sweet welcome. While many have welcomed the bill, there has been some legitimate opposition to the bill per say based on its political repercussion that it will enervate the representation of minorities in the parliament even further. But I see the problem from another perspective. For a long time, there has been such reservation in local administration, i.e., village panchayats and municipalities. One of the bitterest experiences of such a compulsory reservation is that in many cases, the women are compelled to take part in the political processes, which is not necessarily their choice.

The concomitant byproduct of this policy is that the male members of the women’s family become leaders de facto irrespective of their fitness. These ‘leaders by chance’ pay little heed to the public sentiment or to the actual elected representatives’. A glaring example of such an outcome has been successfully portrayed in the Shyam Benegal movie “Well Done Abba”, where the elected lady representative “Bal Amma” only signs the papers, and the result is “bawdi chori”, stealing of the well on a massive scale! Thus, a measure to empower the women may result in the community getting poorer leadership. Empowerment of women yet remains a distant dream, in many such cases.

Missing link between measures of empowerment and their outcome

Thus it is evident that all these components of empowerment individually fail to empower women and so do they do collectively also. The parts together fail to make the whole! Why is it so? Where is the missing link? How to bridge the gap between the measures for women empowerment and their outcome? We have considered all these dimensions ignoring the most basic one – a respectful attitude towards women from the society.

In order for the women to lead a good life, I suppose this is the ultimate goal of all status equality and empowerment; we must change our attitude towards them. And that alone has the potential to make their life easier, sufferings smoother, contributions significant, efforts worth and their existence meaningful. Without this fundamental component of respect for women, no religious scriptures can ensure their rights, no volume of feminist activism would bring them security and peace in life, no job can compensate them enough, no amount of education can actually liberate them. Through the measures of liberation we can end up increasing their miseries, through legislations of freedom we can actually bind them to our frames of references. A true freedom of choice can only follow from a profound sense of respect towards women.

This respect towards women must be inculcated both in letters as well practice. We have it in letters for ages, but now it is high time that we show it in practice. For the younger generations, and the generations to come, we need to show and make them feel that girls are individuals just as boys are, they are free to chose from the available options about their lives, that they have an equally important say in the family matters and in communal affairs, and that women are respectable members of the society. It starts from our families. If we are respectful to our wives, mothers and sisters, our children will also be respectful to their mothers, sisters, and wives. And ultimately, a meaningful transition – from oppression to empowerment will be possible.

(The writer is a PhD student at Texas Tech University, Texas. He originally hails from Assam, India)

Women’s Reservation Bill: What It Means For Muslim Representation?

By Md. Mudassir Alam ,

March 9, 2010 is seen as a red letter in the history of democratic India as the long waited Women’s Reservation Bill (WRB) was passed in the Rajya Sabha by a majority of 186 to 1. Some see the bill as a rising sun for the women of country, while some say women got their right in the political set up. From here on the Women’s Reservation Bill will be presented in the Lok Sabha for approval. Most probably the bill will be passed in Lok Sabha and further tabled in 14 state assemblies. Finally the President of India will put stamps on Women’ Reservation Bill as the new law of the political setup of the country. After the approval from the President of India women will get 33 per cent reservation in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.

History of the bill

The story of WRB began on September 12, 1996 when Ramakant D Khalap the then Law Minister during the Deve Gowda government introduced the Women’s Reservation Bill (81st Constitutional Amendment Bill) that sought 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies. However, the very next day on September 13, 1996 only 230 Lok Sabha MPs showed up in the Parliament that was short of the magical number 273 required to approve a constitutional amendment. On December 9, 1996 a joint Parliamentary Committee chaired by Geeta Mukherjee, presented its report on the Women’s Reservation Bill to the Lok Sabha.

The matter of women’s reservation remained quiet for almost one and half years and was re-introduced in 1998 during Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA government through the 84th Constitutional Amendment Bill. In the year 1999 the NDA government re-introduced the Women’s Reservation Bill in the 13th Lok Sabha, and again in 2002 and 2003. An all-party meeting was called by the NDA in March 2003 and BJP spokesperson Vijay Malhotra told that his party wants the Bill passed in this session itself, with or without consensus. But the Bill could not be passed during NDA government and it became the part of Congress led UPA government’s Common Minimum Programme (CMP) in 2004. Meanwhile, in 2005 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced its full support for the Women’s Reservation Bill.

Muslim girls in a political rally in West Bengal [TCN photo]

The UPA government tabled the bill the Rajya Sabha in 2008 with the intention to continue the legislation without any lapse. In December 2009 the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, and Personnel recommended the passage of the Bill. The Union Cabinet cleared the Women Reservation’s Bill on February 25, 2010 that was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on March 8, 2010, especially on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

However, the poor floor management of the Congress led UPA government and its lack of communication with the opposition parties led the MPs of RJD and SP MPs disrupt tabling the Bill in the Rajya Sabha. In fact, the MPs crossed all the limits and put the Parliament and democracy to shame when they tore the Women’s Reservation Bill and attacked Hamid Ansari, the Vice President and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. On March 9, 2010 government tabled the Bill again in the Rajya Sabha that was put into vote by the chairman.

What the Bill means

Since its introduction in 1996, Women’s Reservation Bill has been a debated topic and it had got mixed responses both in the forms of appreciation and criticism from various sects. As per the Bill the women will get 181 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha and 1,370 out of a total of 4,109 seats in the 28 State Assemblies. Of course, the Bill has been passed with the aim to empower the women of the country who didn’t actively participate in the active politics or fail to win elections because of male dominancy. But on a broad spectrum the features of Women’s Reservation Bill has totally neglected the minorities especially Muslims, OBCs and Dalits of the country. Quite interestingly as well as surprisingly the Bill seeks 41 seats reserved for Schedule Caste (SC) and Schedule Tribes (ST) around 22 per cent of the total Lok Sabha seats.

Fact is that, the Bill clearly shows the negligence approach of the two major parties – namely the Congress Party and BJP towards Muslims the second biggest population of the country. At one side these parties always make tall claims that they wish the involvement of all religious sects of the country in all fields including politics, but when talked about the reservation of Muslims a step-motherly attitude is shown. Not only the political parties, the Apex Court as well as high courts had struck down the demand or provision for Muslim reservation many times in the past including recently in Andhra Pradesh where the state government has provided some reservation to Muslims.

Muslim representation

Despite having a population of around 16 per cent, Muslims have only 5.52% representation in the Parliament. Currently there are 29 Muslim MPs in the country that include a maximum of 11 MPs from Congress Party. In the 15th Lok Sabha among 59 women Lok Sabha members only three are Muslim MPs (approx 5 per cent only), namely Mausam Noor (from Malda Lok Sabha seat in West Bengal on Congress ticket), Tabassum Begum (from Kairana Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh on Bahujan Samaj Party ticket) and Kaisar Jahan (from Sitapur Lok Sabha seat on Bahujan Samaj Party ticket).

Now coming back to the important point regarding the Women’s Reservation Bill. If the government and the opposition was really serious about the rights and upliftment of the women in the country, then why Muslim women were neglected in the Bill? We all know very well and the Sachhar Committee Report has already told about the poor socio-economic condition of Muslims in the country. As per the Sachhar Committee recommendations Muslims of the country need essential support from the government for upliftment. But the government didn’t think twice or discussed the need of making amendment in the Women’s Reservation Bill keeping in mind the dismal status of Muslims in the country.

Muslims in India are backward from social as well as economic aspects. Due to lack of education and proper support from the government the Muslims are lagging behind from other sects of the country. Women’s Reservation Bill was a big hope for Muslim women whose presence is almost negligible in the Indian political system. Need of the hour is that Muslims should now come forward and sincerely discuss the issue of their presence in the Indian politics. Today Muslims have lost their reserved percentage in the Women’s Reservation Bill and in the coming time there are fair chances that the number of Muslims may go down if the accommodating nature of the top Muslim political leaders continues. If Muslims would not have representation in the Indian political setup, then who will address the issues related to the second biggest populace of the country.

Courtesy:  TwoCircles.net

Women Who Dared

Women generally are considered weak in our patriarchal society and men feel they need to be protected. Is it true? Well it may be true in some contexts but there are instances where women have dared where men chicken out or ‘weaker’ women have proved to be morally much stronger. Here it also needs to be stressed that only physical strength or strength of arms is not real strength, it is moral values which make really strong. Those who have moral superiority need not fear anyone and cannot be defeated.
Though no one can say women are inherently morally stronger but women tend to have better morals than men. There are number of reasons for that. Men aspire more for power and domination than women and hence resort to more morally unsound practices. They are involved more in crime than women and women tend to be more ethical in their behavior.

With very few exceptions women have not waged wars. Most of the ferocious and highly destructive wars in which millions of innocent human beings were killed were launched by men. In the last century two world wars were launched and fought by men, women only suffered. Women are far more sensitive to human life than men. It is women who give birth to life and sustain it. She carries human life for nine long months in her womb and than, after giving birth, nurtures it for years before child becomes self sufficient.

Men, on the other hand, to realize their own ambitions or wealth or power, would kill thousands of human beings within few seconds by dropping bombs or launching deadly missiles. Who caused atom bomb to be dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima killing more than two lakh people at a time? Not a woman. For men, power and authority are far more important than sensitivity to human life.

In communal riots in India too men have been real culprits than women. In my 40 years of investigating and monitoring communal riots in India I have not find a single instance in which any woman plotted and executed riots, much less killed any Hindu or Muslim. It was only in Gujarat that one Maya Kodnani is alleged to have instigated men to kill innocent human beings in Narodia Patia. I have found no other instance.

However, I have come across several instances in which women have saved the lives of innocent people. These women are real inspiration for peace loving people. I would like to throw some light here on the role of these women. Some I discovered while investigating riots and some I read about in newspapers and subsequently met them and some we had occasion to felicitate them on behalf of Women for Secularism, an organization working for rights of women at grassroots.

I came first such instance during investigation of communal riots in Ahmedabad in 1969. Now I do not remember her name but she was a vegetable vendor living in Jalimsingh Ni Chawl in Ahmedabad where there were two Muslim families as her neighbors. During the riots of 1969 a mob surrounded the Chawl and demanded that the Muslims be handed over to them to be killed and their household looted.

This woman the vegetable vendor, heard this and came out of her room with her sickle with which she used to cut her vegetables, came down the stairs and stood at the entrance challenging the mob to step forward to kill Muslims. I will cut the head of anyone stepping forward with this sickle, then you can kill me and walk over my dead body to kill the Muslims. None came forward and the mob of 500 dispersed.

I met this lady during my investigation and asked her why did you risk your life to save Muslims? She said first of all they were my neighbors and it was my duty to save their lives or die before they were killed. Secondly they were from my own village in Rajasthan. What face I would have shown to my villagers if they were killed. Thirdly, it was my duty to save human lives. They were innocent and had nothing to do with the ongoing violence.

But there were men in the Chawl, they could have come forward to save their neighbors’ lives. If these men had no courage, what could I do? I did what I could to save my Muslim neighbors. She was indeed an inspiration for hundreds of men. These men hid inside their homes while this woman alone took the challenge.

Another instance I know of was of Mrs. Yadav from Aligarh when communal riots broke out there in 1994. A bus carrying baraat (marriage party) going towards Lucknow was parked in the bazaar and driver had gone for some work. A Hindu mob came to set fire to the bus. They were mostly women and children going for the marriage. Mrs. Yadav was passing from there along with her son.

She saw that bus will be set afire killing 40 women and children. She looked around for something with which she could ward off the mob. She found an iron rod, picked it up and charged the mob with it. The mob ran away and she asked her son to drive the bus towards their house. Fortunately the driver had left the ignition key in the bus itself enabling her son to drive the bus off to their compound thus saving 40 lives single-handedly.

The Chief Minister Mulayamsingh Yadav himself met the lady and rewarded her with 1 lakh of rupees for her courage. I also met her when I went to Aligarh for investigation. She told me she was not sure whether she would be able to save their lives but I considered it my duty to at least make an attempt. More than courage, she said, it was my duty to save innocent lives, especially women and children. They all would have been reduced to ashes. I am fortunate to save their lives.

In this case too there were many men around but none showed courage or interest to save these innocent lives where a woman alone could pick courage and wielded rod and saved these lives. More than any thing else women after all are more sensitive to human life. She became talk of the town in Aligarh for her unusual feat.

Tulja Bai standing outside her home[TwoCircles.net]

In 2008 riots broke out in Bhainsa in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh. A house of Muslim Syed Osman was set afire on October 10 in which whole family including women and children would have been burnt alive but for the courage of Tuljabai 61 and her son and other women members of her family who saved their lives. Others looked on. Again a woman came forward showing extra-ordinary courage and others showed no concern. Communal minded men were busy killing and destroying.

Communal riots broke out in Sangli, Miraj, Ichalkaranji and Kolhapur district in early September 2009 on the eve of Ganesh festival 7-9 September 2009. During these riots 60 mosques and dargahs (mausoleums) were destroyed or damaged. But several Hindu women from these villages not only saved Muslim lives but also repaired these mosques and dargahs. For example the Gram Panchayat of Kavthepiran, which is run by women, decided to repair the damaged Muslim religious places and try to get life back to normal. These Hindu women said, “Our Muslim sisters played an equal role in getting the award for our village. There are over 100 Muslim houses in the village and some had started leaving the village after the riots. But we stopped them. All women from the village visited the Muslim houses and assured to protect them.” Thus they prevented Muslims from migrating from villages and assured them of security to their lives and properties. This sanity in the midst of communal frenzy by men was shown by illiterate rural women.

Some of these women were Hasubai Buchare, Rekha Chanade, Vandana Gaikwad and Nisha Butade, all grassroot workers. I met them in Icchalkaranji where we felicitated them on behalf of Women for Secularism in a convention held on 13th November 2009. I found them very courageous and though some of them illiterate or with very little education, spoke with great verve against those who organize communal violence to serve their political ends and vowed never to allow such violence in their village.

The communal violence in Kandhmal district wherein about 40 Christians were killed by some Hindu fanatics, also saw many Hindu courageous women who came forward to save lives of Christians fellow villagers in 2008. Some of these women were Ms. Ranchi Pradhan, Ms. Suruchi Pradhan of Rudenia village, Ms. Satyabhama Nayak and Ms. Nabojini Pradhan who showed exceptional courage in saving lives of many Christians or protect their houses. We felicitated all of them in the convention of All India Secular Forum. (Pradhan is the title used by Hindu tribals of Kandhmal)

These women are also all illiterate and grass root workers. Their humanism is very much alive and are free of communal prejudices. They proved to be more of human being than Hindu, Christian or Muslim. It gives us great hope and proves two things: one, that women are far more compassionate than men and two, illiterate women are far more free of communal prejudices than highly educated urban people.

The Women for Secularism is, therefore, concentrating on these grass root women and mainly working among them. These women suffer much more at the hands of tradition bound men, especially those men who are votaries of communal ideologies and yet these women are far less prejudiced and are more humane. They are our asset and we must see that they get their Constitutional rights. They need to be better organized than they are today. There is also great need to build awareness of their rights.

Muslim Women Of Malabar

In various towns of Malabar, it is not uncommon to see Muslim women on the streets, bazaars, and schools. They can be easily identified with their traditional mode of clothing. Young girls wear long colorful skirts and long sleeved blouses and heads covered in dupatta or a hijab. Older girls, it seems, prefer shalwar qameez. Married women wear saris or abayas.

However they may be dressed- traditional, modern, or religious- Mappila women cannot be ignored. Until recently, a section of ulama were opposed to women’s education but people’s attitude changed and now the same group of traditional ulama have set up an engineering college with a women’s hostel attached. Times have changed.

Mother and daughters- moving forward

This change, however, has come through with the tireless work by reformers like Makthi Thangal and Kunhahammed Haji. Haji encouraged women’s education and sent his daughters to school to set an example. C.H. Mohammed Koya, as the Education Minister of Kerala, introduced a scholarship for Muslims girls. The Mujhahid movement and the Jamaat-e-Islami also encouraged the education of girls.

These days, girls not only top various exams, but also more girls are enrolled in professional colleges than boys. Muslim women can now be seen taking full advantage of educational and employment opportunities available to them in Kerala. One Fathima benefitted from these opportunities and became the first women to be a Supreme Court judge. Justice M. Fathima Beevi also served as the governor of Tamil Nadu.

An unintended consequence that has occurred due to the large number of men from Kerala that are now working in Gulf countries, is that women of Kerala have taken on new responsibilities. To realize who really makes financial decisions here, just take a look at the thousands of billboards that you will encounter on the ever winding roads of Kerala. Among the thatched roofs, mosques, new buildings, and lush greenery, dotting the sides of the roads you cannot miss billboards advertising clothing, jewelry and home construction & furnishings. And suddenly when you see an ad for a scooter, asking the girls of Kerala – Why should boys have all the fun?- the question and the billboard doesn’t seem so out of place.

Watch: Counselling Kerala Society

Watch: Munambath Bivi Dargah

Islamic Shariah In The Western World

As the population of Muslims is increasing in western countries like U.K., USA, Canada etc. the demand for applying Shari’ah law to Muslims is being voiced. The Government of Canada was toying with the idea of enforcing Shari’ah law in the state of Toronto but none other than progressive Muslim women and men themselves opposed government’s intention to apply Shari’ah law and in view of stiff opposition by these Muslims, government gave up the idea. Continue reading Islamic Shariah In The Western World

Islam, Globalization And Challenges

Islam & Globalization(I)

Much is being written these days on globalization and its effects as well as Islam and challenges of globalization. Yet much more is needed to be written to cover various aspects. Globalization has emerged as a major challenge for religions in general and Islam in particular. Before we deal with these challenges, we would like to throw light on the nature of globalization itself so that we can comprehend the challenge better. Continue reading Islam, Globalization And Challenges

Rethinking Islam And Hinduism

S Irfan Habib

There has been a lot of noise about rethinking in Islam, particularly post September 11,2001. I feel it is long overdue and September 11 has just given us a rude shock to get into action. Within India, Godhra and the ensuing Gujarat carnage has added urgency to the question of rethinking, making us conscious of the fact that there is something seriously wrong somewhere. If September 11 and Godhra are the ugly faces of Islam than the burning of Graham Staines and his children and the ongoing Gujarat carnage is the depraved and distorted face of Hinduism. Both are threats to the secular and pluralist fabric of India. Continue reading Rethinking Islam And Hinduism

The Nuclear Deal and the Desperation

So now we do not even need a President of a country to tell us what to do. We can take instructions as happily from a junior official, be it Burns or Boucher, as they come here cracking the whip and we to the last man in the government stand happily in line, hands raised in servile salute as we shout in orchestrated chorus, “we want the nuclear deal, yes we want the nuclear deal.” Continue reading The Nuclear Deal and the Desperation

Indian Muslim Community Discourses: Continuities, Changes and Challenges

Jama Masjid DelhiThis paper is not a rigorously argued or academically-grounded presentation. Rather, it seeks to lay out some stray thoughts that come to the mind as I reflect on my involvement in writing about issues related to Muslims and inter-community relations in India over almost two decades.

This paper is divided into three broad sections. The first section deals with the ways in which the highly contentious notions of the ‘majority community’ or, simply, ‘the majority’, and the ‘minority communities’ have been constructed and have evolved historically in India. Continue reading Indian Muslim Community Discourses: Continuities, Changes and Challenges