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Islamism - 4

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Islamism - 4
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Father Arrested for Brutal Murder of Nine-Year-Old Daughter in Makkah
Maha Akeel, Arab News

JEDDAH, 10 April 2006 — A man and his wife are being held by Makkah authorities in connection with the fatal stabbing of his nine-year-old daughter. Local newspapers reported the murder a few days ago and said that the father will record his confession in court. According to initial police reports he will tell the court that he did not intend to kill his daughter but only to discipline her.
....................................

A few days before the incident, the biological mother had sent a letter to the Makkah municipality begging the governor to intervene before the father killed the girl, but it was too late. Neither her school nor the neighbors tried to help the girl even though they must have seen the bruises and heard her cries.
...................

<b>A major problem is that the rights of the parents are granted priority over the rights of the child. The father, who is more often the perpetrator of domestic abuse, is also favored under the current system in accordance with social norms</b>.

Intervention by authorities is virtually nonexistent. <b>Police do not have the authority to enter homes and bring abused children under public protection. A legal guardian’s permission is required to medically treat children, and, according to law, wives cannot report domestic abuse by husbands to the police.</b>
Social workers, school teachers (who often are the first outside the family to observe signs of abuse) and family members aware of abused children have been asking for proper laws and procedures that would enable them and the police to take action before it is too late.

In the case of the nine-year-old victim in Makkah, it remains to be seen if the girl will get justice posthumously.

<b>According to Islamic law, a father who kills his child is not eligible for the death penalty,</b> but exemptions are made by the state in particularly egregious cases.

Depending on the circumstances of this case, the father is likely to serve a jail sentence of a number of years if he’s found guilty. <b>The mother may receive monetary compensation for the death of her daughter.</b>
www.arabnews.com/?page=1§...m=4&y=2006 <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Was Hussaiyn bin Mansour Al Hallaj inspired by India? </b>
By Akhilesh Mithal
Deccan-
In the third century of its advent, Islam and its world were in ferment about forms of polity such as the Caliphate and ideas like the relationship of man and God. The Caliph recognised by Shias (Fatimid) held court in Egypt while the Sunni Caliph (Abbasid) functioned from Baghdad. Many splinter groups came up with each having its own separate and distinct interpretation of the word.

Al Hussaiyn bin Mansour returned to Ahwaz in 280 Al Hijri and started preaching his own ideas of Being and Becoming to those who would hear him. Hussaiyn’s charisma arose from his interminable prayers and fasting, and the great passion he had for the word and its interpretation. It attracted a multitude of listeners and made for envy, jealousy and enmity.

By the time (281 Al Hijri) Hussaiyn bin Mansour undertook his second pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina he had already achieved considerable fame. Four hundred devotees all dressed in patchwork coats (muraqqu’a): the outward sign of futuwwa: a brotherhood of those who have freed themselves from worldliness, followed him in his sojourn.

For the spiritually elevated Al Hussaiyn was “Al Hallaaj” or the carder (dhuniyaa) of hearts and the spirit; one who separates and purifies each strand like the carder/dhuniyaa, does raw or matted, through, use cotton wool. Those who followed him were seeking either enlightenment or a miraculous intervention by the saint in order to free themselves of whatever worldly concerns anguished them most.

Al Hussaiyn developed a reputation for miracle working early on in his career as a preacher and expounder of philosophy. He himself tried to explain that there were no miracles involved and recounted the incident when he is supposed to have reached under his prayer mat and brought out a fistful of coin from the mud.

Al Hussaiyn says that a devotee came to the mosque where he was praying and gave him some coins to distribute to the needy. As there were no beggars around Al Hussaiyn placed the coins under his prayer mat and resumed his practice of continuous prayer and almost interminable fasting, and forgot all about the money. A few days later, when he was not deep in prayer but aware of and taking interest in whatever was going on around him, some mendicants came and asked for alms. Al Hussaiyn remembered the coins under the mat, reached out and gave them to the supplicants. A miracle story was born which hounded him for the rest of his life.

Restless in his quest for truth, Hussaiyn bin Mansour Al Hallaj set forth on his journey to India in 284 Al Hijri when he was forty years old. He returned after visiting Mansoura and Multan. As Adi Shankara had already pronounced his “Aham Brahmaasmi” by this time is it possible that its Arabic echo “Ana’l Huqq” arose out of the Indian experience of Al Hussaiyn?

The Sufi believes that the life of man on earth is an exile from God — that death which helps reunite the finite soul with the infinite, is not an event to be feared but an ecstasy to be welcomed. The anniversary of the death of a Sufi saint is therefore marked with celebration as for a wedding and is called “urs” or union. A verse of Al Hussaiyn bin Mansour al Hallaaj which occurs in one version of the Akhbar al Hallaaj reads:

“Unify me (wahhidni), O my only one... Let me be the truth and as truth bestows investiture upon the one who becomes it, let our separation be no more...” This statement and its fulfilment in the proclamation “Anaa al Huqq” (I am the truth/reality/God) was interpreted as blasphemy by the enemies of Al Hussaiyn.
April 922 AD saw al Hussaiyn bin Mansour al Hallaaj martyred. He still lives while those who killed him are dead gone and forgotten.
<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
From Balbir K. Punj :

I keep on getting mails and e-mails — approbating, enquiring, or
critical — from my readers. I normally respond at an individual
level. I never thought that one of these could become the theme of a
column. But recently one Nazar Ahmed Khan, resident of Civil Lines,
Aligarh, who apparently keeps a tab on my column in the Hindi daily
Dainik Jagran, has sent me a missive running into five pages. The
letter is a veiled threat to refrain from propagating
my "misinformed views on Islam based on isolated events and
individual writings on Islamophobes." It further offers me a chance
to understand "true Islam," if not embrace it as well, for the
writer is confident that my "future generation" will have to accept
Islam in any case.

I thought it wise to share my reply in Dainik Jagran with readers of
my English column. The letter offers a glimpse into a Muslim mind.
It is an empirical truism that it is Islam that shapes the mind of a
Muslim. Christianity doesn't shape the mind of a Christian, nor
Hinduism of a Hindu, Buddhism of a Buddhist in that sense and to
that extent.

Most Muslims not only have a different perception of religion, of
their own and others', but also of history, law, politics,
international institutions, banking, education, women's status. No
other ideology or thought, viz. democracy, communism, anarchism,
free thinking, can impassion the Muslim masses except for Islam. In
Muslim countries, any and every decision has to pass the "Islamic or
un-Islamic" test.

The letter, typical of any Muslim apologist, says, I have not
understood Islam. To be precise, my forefathers for 600 years
neither understood Islam nor had any inclination to understand it.
In fact, Dhimmis (non-Muslims under Muslim rule), were legally
barred from teaching their children the Quran. A kafir (non-Muslim)
could either embrace Islam, or pay jizya (religious taxation) to
preserve his identity. Not infrequently, they were given a choice
between sword and Islam (Toru Singh and Veer Hakikat Rai are classic
cases). Forefathers of Mr Nazar Ahmad Khan, probably chose the
former, mine the latter. We did not understand Islam, but we
suffered and survived Islam.

The truth is that few non-Muslims have academic fascination about
Islam. They want to avoid Islam or escape Islam. It is only the
persistent pressure of Islam on non-Muslim demography and world
order that is compelling non-Muslims to rethink about Islam.

I don't understand Islam, but Osama bin Laden and Aiyman al Zawahari
do; Aurangzeb, Shah Waliullah, Said Qutb, Maulana Maududi and Ali
Mian did.

I am sure Mr Nazar Ahmed Khan will not claim better knowledge of
Islam than those eminent men of religion. What do their views come
down to? It is to re-establish an Islamic state and Islamic world
order under the "shade of swords." This view is inherent in Islam.

Mr Nazar Khan is annoyed at me for calling Islam claustrophobic. He
points out that many in the free society of the West are gravitating
towards Islam for its "philosophical and religious appeal." They
have no monetary, social or political gain by accepting Islam.
Certainly, he has a point, I must accept. Why should Mary McLeod,
daughter of a Jamaican evangelical Christian, become a Muslim and
drape herself in burqa? His son Germaine Maurice Lindsay also known
as Abdullah Shaheed Jamal was one of the four suicide bombers in
London tube rail explosion on July 7, 2005.

But most westerners who accepted Islam never accepted the rigours of
Islam. Few like John Walker Lynd, the "American Taliban," would give
up comforts and the democratic system of the West to fight on the
rugged terrain of Afghanistan against his compatriots.

But Nazar Khan is not correct in saying that Muslims (despite death
penalty on apostasy) do not go out of Islam. He might check on
websites like www.faithfreedom.org or www.mukto-mona.com run by
apostate Muslims. You also have people like Ibn Warraq writing, Why
I am not a Muslim and editing Leaving Islam, or Anwar Sheikh, Islam:
The Arab Imperialism. Prior to leaving Islam many of them were
devout, even fanatic, Muslims.

In any case, I leave Islam to them, since each one of them knows
Islam better than I do.

The letter-writer mentions that there is a long list of social
malpractice in Hinduism. Dalits were doubtless subjected to many
religious and social handicaps. But social reformers arose from
within Hindu society in every age, reformers who opposed
untouchability, casteism, sati, bar on women's education, child
marriage, polygamy etc.

Who can be a greater authority on this subject than Babasaheb
Ambedkar? Dr B.R. Ambedkar says, "The Hindus have their social
evils. But there is a relieving feature about them, namely, that
some of them are conscious of their existence and are
actively agitating for their removal. The Muslims, on the other
hand, do not realize that there are evils and consequently do not
agitate for their removal. Indeed, they oppose any change in the
existing practices. It is noteworthy that Muslims opposed the Child
Marriage Bill brought in the Central Assembly in 1930, whereby the
age for marriage of a girl was raised to 14 and boy to 18 on the
ground that it was opposed to the Muslim canon law" (Pakistan or
Partition of India, p.233).

Nor am I surprised when the writer claims that the philosophy of
Islam is so perfect that neither Semitic religions like Judaism or
Christianity nor "tribal religions" (sic) like Hinduism can rival
it. Now, Islam revolves around the Quran, and the Prophet's Sunna
(saying and acts of the Prophet that every Muslim should try to
emulate to the best of his capacity).

Thus Islam is a theology not a philosophy. The Ayat (verses) of the
Quran are like commands to be followed with unquestioning obedience.
There is no scope for discovery, debate, discussion or consensus.

Doubt in Islam, unlike in Christianity, is equal to disbelief, which
is punishable. Philosophy entered Islam through Christian writings,
from Greek scholarship.

But while philosophy triumphed over Christianity, it was banished
from Islam.

The cornerstone of philosophy of ancient India is self-realization.
You can be a yogi if you do yoga and push the present frontiers of
human consciousness. Any scientific postulations must stand the test
of experimentation. But in Islam, Allah has uttered his last word
with Prophet Mohammed. There is no way to either contact Allah or
doubt Mohammed's revelations. A Muslim will only have to obey. He
must also engage in jihad to bring the world unto Islam. If anybody
finds fault with Islam, it is at one's own peril. There is no
tradition of debate and discussion in Islam. This is the source of
Islam's incompatibility with the rest of humanity.

Balbir K. Punj
Member of Parliament India from The Bhartiya Janta Party
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Maulana Jamir Ahmed Iliyasi, president of All India Imam Organisation, termed the misconceptions being spread about the RSS by some vested interests as a propaganda and said the Sangh and its chief really want to unite the whole country. He further said nobody in India is kafir, as everybody in the county is theist. About the terrorist activities, he said it is absolutely terrorism and not jehad. He emphasised that Sanskrit should be taught in madrasas and non-Muslims should also try to learn about Islam so that misconceptions prevailing today may be removed</b>.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Very sane voice.
Graft and the hajj - Jakarta on the spot
By Donald Greenlees International Herald Tribune

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12, 2006
What ulema can do

Extremism such as suicide bombings has wrongly warped the perception of Islam. "Such mischievous people are not just in the Muslim community, but among the Hindus, the Christians, the Buddhists. In any community, a few mischievous people are always there." The words are not those of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who on Sunday rejected a link between Islam and terrorism, but of the Dalai Lama. "To some people, the Muslim tradition appears more militant," the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people told a Muslim-sponsored anti-terror conference in San Francisco on Saturday. "I feel that's totally wrong." Like any other tradition, Islam "is the practice of compassion," he said in his address to the gathering of religious leaders from nearly thirty countries. A Muslim leader could hardly have been more eloquent in the defence of Islam against unfair criticism.

The followers of Islam intensely dislike the misperception about their religion, but there's no denying that extremism does exist among a small minority of Muslims. Sunday's appeal to ulema by President Musharraf that they help the government fight fanaticism is another reminder of that. He was in Karachi in connection with the investigations into last Tuesday's almost-certain suicide bombing, during a religious gathering at that, which resulted yet again in Pakistan and Muslims being defamed.

Since some false religious leaders in Pakistan, like the "jihadis," have been instrumental in its creation, it falls to our ulema in general to exorcise the demon. The clerical organisation that lost leaders and officials in the bombing, and 17 of whose leading members met the president, is at least not jihadi. (It's a little sad it insisted on a restricted meeting, and wouldn't agree to a multi-sectarian one he had sought.) With their control of the pulpit, ulema are in a very good position to discourage fanatical ideas and philosophies.

Ultimately, however, it's for Pakistani society as a whole to defeat fanaticism. With religious, sectarian, ethnic and linguistic groups always having lived cheek by jowl in it, Pakistani society has a deep tradition of tolerance. The murky history of fanaticism in this country doesn't go back even three decades. Unless people themselves become aware of the dangers inherent in the misuse of the mosque and the loudspeaker, no amount of government effort can succeed in tackling the menace. Fortunately, this awareness is growing among an increasing number of Pakistanis.

Likewise, the world needs development of greater awareness on religions. The conference in San Francisco, the city where the United Nations Organisation was founded, seeks an organisation bringing together different religions for opposition to violent extremism and promotion of inter-faith harmony -- a "United Nations of Religion." Pakistani ulema would do well to support this effort.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--> <b> Islam and democracy </b>
Pioneer.com
Kishan Bhatia
Abdul Rahman Al-Habib's article, "Why Arabs curse West?" (April 17), makes interesting read. The Arab elite panders to Islamic dogma in West Asia. Many Muslim commentators who have some exposure to Western education express a desire for democratic rule in Islamic nations but most of them prefer a top-down military-democracy to a bottom-up democracy model that the West espouses.

What applies to Arabs is also true of India's neighbour, Pakistan. The perpetuation of policies supported by Islamic dogma allows Pakistan's ruling elite to enjoy power. Not one of them has shown the vision for uplifting country socially or culturally. Many senior Pakistani commentators refer to democracy without clearly defining what they mean by it: The Western model of bottom-up democracy or Islamic model of top-down military-democracy.

<b>If one analyses Pakistan's military-democracy, the deficiencies in the Islamic political model, its educational system and economic policies, they point out that Pakistan is not prepared for a Western style democracy.</b>

The Islamic world would not be prepared for a Western style democracy until it learns from the West granting "self-evident" human rights to its citizens and ensuring delivery of equal justice to all, which are basic to developing durable interdependence among all ethnicities.<b> A Western style democracy requires bottom-up, horizontal dialogue between the constituent ethnic forces.</b>

<b>Muslims are known to establish parallel societies that inhibit widespread social contacts among ethnically divided population. The two models are diametrically opposite</b>. With renaissance in Europe, Western nations developed initiatives for the bottom-up horizontal dialogue; with perpetuation of Islamic dogma, <b>the Muslim rulers are able to establish top-down military-democracy by exploiting divisive tendencies represented by the parallel societies for different ethnic and sectarian groups</b>.

Many commentators have been openly critical of Gen Pervez Musharraf, but most of them do not acknowledge the deficiencies that need to be rectified if an egalitarian democracy is to take root in Pakistan. Incidentally, what is being done to prepare the society for a participatory democracy in Pakistan? Tragically, sustainable inter-dependence among all ethnic and sectarian branches in Pakistan is missing.
<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Fatwa against statues triggers uproar in Egypt </b>
3 April 2006
http://tinyurl.com/s25ub

CAIRO -A fatwa issued by Egypt’s top religious authority, which forbids the display of statues has art-lovers fearing it, could be used by Islamic extremists as an excuse to destroy Egypt’s historical heritage.

Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the country’s top Islamic jurist, issued the religious edict which declared as un-Islamic the exhibition of statues in homes, basing the decision on texts in the hadith (sayings of the prophet).

Intellectuals and artists argue that the decree represents a setback for art -- a mainstay of the multi-billion-dollar tourist industry -- and would deal a blow to the country’s fledgling sculpture business.

The fatwa did not specifically mention statues in museums or public places, but it condemned sculptors and their work.

Still, many fear the edict could prod Islamic fundamentalists to attack Egypt’s thousands of ancient and pharaonic statues on show at tourist sites across the country.

“We don’t rule out that someone will enter the Karnak temple in Luxor or any other pharaonic temple and blow it up on the basis of the fatwa,” Gamal al-Ghitani, editor of the literary Akhbar al-Adab magazine, told AFP.

Wave of criticisms

Gomaa had pointed to a passage from the hadith that stated: ”Sculptors would be tormented most on Judgment Day,” saying the text left no doubt that sculpting was “sinful” and using statues for decorating homes forbidden.

Gomaa’s ruling overturned a fatwa issued more than 100 years ago by then moderate and highly respected mufti Mohammed Abdu, permitting the private display of statues after the practice had been condemned as a pagan custom.

Abdu’s fatwa had “closed the issue, as it ruled that statues and pictures are not haram (forbidden under Islam) except idols used for worship,” Ghitani pointed out.

Novelist Ezzat al-Qamhawi said Gomaa’s ruling would “return Muslims to the dark ages.”

Movie director Daud Abdul Sayed said the fatwa “simply ignored the spiritual evolvement of Muslims since the arrival of Islam... Clearly, it was natural that they forbid statues under early Islam because people worshipped them.

“But are there Muslims worshipping statues nearly 15 centuries later?” he asked.

The notion sounds “ridiculous,” Yussef Zidan, director of the manuscript museum at the prestigious Bibliotheca Alexandrina, told AFP.

“Why would anyone even bring up the issue (of the statues) in a country where there are more than 10 state-owned institutions that teach sculpting and more than 20 others that teach the history of art?”

Ghitani added: “It’s time for those placing impediments between Islam and innovation to get out of our lives.”

The wave of criticisms against the fatwa has put clerics on a collision course with intellectuals and artists, who say that such edicts only reinforce claims -- particularly in the West -- that Islam is against progress.

Some, including Sayed, compared Gomaa’s edict to a similar one issued by the former fundamentalist rulers of Afghanistan, the Taleban, that led to the destruction of statues of the Buddha despite an international outcry.

Mainstream Islamic scholars, including Egypt’s then mufti, Nasr Farid Wasel, and the controversial Qatar-based Islamic scholar, Yussef al-Qaradawi, all condemned the Taleban’s actions in March 2001.

But Qaradawi joined Gomaa in declaring that statues used for decoration are “haram” or un-Islamic.

“Islam proscribed statues, as long as they symbolise living entities such as human beings and animals,” Qaradawi said on an Islamic website.

“Islam proscribed all that leads to paganism or smells of it, statues of ancient Egyptians included,” he added.

The only exception, he said, was “children’s toys.”

Forbidden

Gomaa was appointed as grand mufti by President Hosni Mubarak. The mufti’s fatwas carry much weight and generally represent the official line.

His legitimacy is often challenged by other Muslims over his affiliation to the government and his edicts are not always followed.

The government can choose to enforce or ignore the ruling and its reaction in the past often depended on public opinion.

The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s main political opposition force, dismissed the fatwa.

“The people are more concerned with corruption. What they would like to see is a fatwa banning the presence of the same people at the helm of the country for 25 years and not against statues,” the movement’s spokesman Issam al-Aryan told AFP.

Gomaa has already put out a few contentious decrees and appears set to break his predecessor mufti Wasel’s record on notorious fatwas.

Wasel stirred a controversy in July 2001 for issuing a fatwa against a popular television show, the Arab version of “Who wants to be a millionaire?” that was airing on Egyptian television, saying it was forbidden by Islam.

“These contests are a modern form of betting,” Wasel had said.

The show was eventually cancelled, although it was not clear if the move was related to the fatwa.

In another fatwa in May 2001, Wasel ruled that beauty pageants in which women appear half-naked in front of panels of male judges are haram. The authorities played deaf and Egypt continues to host them.

Wasel slapped a fatwa on watching solar eclipses and another on bullfights, but refused to support rights activists in their campaign to outlaw female genital mutilation.
<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Bit of Malay Culture Is Now Vanishing Under Muslim Rules - </b>
<i>Dance Deemed Un-Islamic
Lives On in Mrs. Zakaria
And Her Mak Yong Shows </i>

KAMPUNG BUNOHAN, Malaysia -- Rohimah Zakaria, dressed in a fringed black tunic and matching pants, with a silver dagger tucked into the waist, rocked hypnotically on a wooden stage at the edge of this rural village.

The 53-year-old grandmother was dressed as Dewa Muda, a mythical Malay god raised as an earthly prince who travels by magic kite to meet his fairy princess in the sky, only to be slain by her attendant. Arms outstretched to a starry, palm-fringed sky, Mrs. Zakaria moved slowly to the discordant wail of a three-stringed fiddle called a rebab.

<b>Mrs. Zakaria, who is a Muslim, is one of the last experts in Mak Yong, an endangered form of dance theater rooted in the animist and Hindu religions that held sway in Southeast Asia long before Islam arrived eight centuries ago. In more recent times, the dance has been deemed un-Islamic by Parti Islam, the political party ruling this lush, tropical seaside state of Kelantan on the South China Sea.</b>

Since the local arbiters of taste banned Mak Yong 15 years ago, people like Mrs. Zakaria have performed it in secret. And because interest is waning, her troupe has been able to stage just a handful of shows in the past year.

The version Mrs. Zakaria did this recent night was just a 20-minute sketch, not the traditional three-hour performance. And there was no shaman to put in his traditional healing appearance at the end. The performance was put on mainly to give visitors from Kuala Lumpur a taste of the culture.

"It's not the same," Mrs. Zakaria sighed. "But at least people can see a little of what it's like."

The steady creep of a more fundamentalist version of Islam throughout Southeast Asia -- which is home to more Muslims than live in the Arab world -- began in the 1970s when Muslim students and scholars overseas were energized by the emergence of Iran as an Islamic state. They brought home fire and brimstone.

<b>Ethnic Malays, who are Muslims, make up the majority of Malaysia's population. But about 25% are ethnic Chinese, who are largely Buddhist or Christian. About 8% are ethnic Indian, many of them Hindus. In Malaysia, most rural villagers are Muslim Malays.</b>

<b>Indian traders brought Hinduism and Buddhism to Southeast Asia in the third century, and Hindu and Buddhist monarchies dominated the Malay peninsula and what is now Indonesia until the 12th century. Traders brought Islam to the region around the 13th century, and Islam eventually supplanted those religions.</b>

<b>For centuries, ancient traditions coexisted easily with Islam. In Malaysia, village girls learned dances like the Mak Yong, which is performed by an all-female cast. Village boys learned the Wayang Kulit, a shadow puppet theater that originated in Indonesia and Malaysia to tell Hindu epic tales</b>.

No longer. A handful of senior citizens in Kelantan, the heartland of Malay culture, are the last to practice traditional theater.

"What you have is the gradual emergence of a new generation of Malaysian Muslims who will be completely cut off from their past," says Farish Ahmad Noor, a Malaysian political scientist at the Center for Modern Oriental Studies in Berlin. "They're losing their cultural compass."

Many Southeast Asian Muslims now navigate by guideposts from the Arab world. Young men in Indonesia are starting to wear turbans and grow beards. In Malaysia, Malays have adopted the Arab word for prayer, salat, to replace the Malay word, sembahyang, which literally means "offer homage to the primal ancestor."

Kelantan, a leafy state of shimmering rice paddies and thick jungle, is Malaysia's front line in the clash between Islam and local Malay culture. Many Malay traditions, like the Mak Yong, originated here.

Kelantan is also Parti Islam's stronghold. When the party won the state in 1990, its ultraconservative state leader, Nik Aziz Nik Mat, ordered grocery stores to provide separate lines for men and women, and told girls they could no longer take part in Quran reading competitions that are popular in schools. <b>He banned Mak Yong and Wayang Kulit.</b>

<b>"We need to purify our local theater from those alien elements," says Mr. Aziz</b>, a somber-looking man in a flowing white robe who has a thin gray beard on the point of his chin. Mak Yong and Islam co-existed peacefully for so long only because Malay Muslims didn't know any better, he says. 

That view baffles Mrs. Zakaria, the fifth generation in her family to dance the Mak Yong. When she was 12, her grandmother built a small practice stage next to the rice paddy behind her house and gave her lessons every day. Later, she joined a troupe and toured the state full-time.<b> "Our traditions are very old. Why is it wrong now?" she asks</b>.

<b>A Mak Yong performance, which runs over two or three nights, tells one of a dozen stories of mythological royalty. They are typically morality tales about the perils of lust or pride. The story of Dewa Muda, who struggles with sadness because he can't reach his princess, is the most popular. </b>

The performances are also therapeutic. Villagers seeking a cure for depression or other emotional ills don the same costume as the lead dancer and shadow her as she dances around the stage. By acting out Dewa Muda's own struggle, they purge their own. At the end of the play, the shaman leads the villager into a trance dance, chanting verses to banish the illness.

Rituals like this are now performed in secret by a handful of retirees like Mrs. Zakaria and Mek Jah binti Deris, 61, another Mak Yong dancer who grew up in a village in South Kelantan. Mrs. Mek Jah last performed in October for a neighbor who was feeling low. Mrs. Mek Jah knows Mak Yong is illegal, but she doesn't care. "We have to do this to balance nature," she says.

Mrs. Mek Jah's two sons-in-law are having none of that. They have forbidden their children to learn the dance. The two men used to pull Mrs. Mek Jah aside at family dinners and beg her to quit, says her brother, Muhammed Nor, 64. "It's terrible. Nowadays, you have young people who tell their parents 'Don't die and go to hell because of this.' "

<b>"The younger generation is very narrow-minded," sighs Mrs. Mek Jah, a compact, feisty woman dressed in a tunic and a bright yellow Muslim headscarf. </b>

Life is more black and white, argues Mr. Aziz. Things are either Islamic or they aren't. <b>He recently lifted the ban on the Wayang Kulit, provided puppeteers substitute Islamic stories for the traditional Hindu epics. And shamans are out. "That kind of 'healing' is not in line with Islam," he says.</b>

Although many moderate Malays worry that their culture is fading, few speak up. One of the most vocal champions of Malay culture in Kelantan is Eddin Khoo, who is of Chinese-Indian descent. He runs a foundation to keep Malay arts alive and has scrounged up funding to stage a few traditional shows each year and train youngsters in Kelantan in traditional Malay arts. No kids have signed on.

He worries about Mr. Aziz's move to water down Malay arts. "Without the rituals, it's meaningless. The Mak Yong would just be some movements," he says.

This tension is beginning to worry some in the capital of Kuala Lumpur. "The upsurge in Islamization is part of the process of searching for identity," says Culture Minister Rais Yatim. "If we don't guide that, it could well go off on a tangent, and it could be very difficult to revive culture."

His office staged Mrs. Zakaria's recent performance of a watered-down Mak Yong. Her bit was followed by a five-minute Wayang Kulit show. The event drew a few hundred villagers. At the back of the field, a group of women wearing headscarves sat on the grass, feeding their children rice and coconut curry. It was enough, however, to upset Parti Islam, which later described the show as "a sign of disrespect."

URL for this article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114541535583429638.html 
<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<b>Muslim students in London told ‘non-believers are filth’</b>

LONDON: Trainee imams at an Islamic school in London with links to Iran told a British newspaper on Thursday they are being taught fundamentalist texts that describe non-Muslims as “filth”. The medieval doctrines are taught at the Hawza Ilmiyya of London, a religious school, which is in the same building as the Islamic College for Advanced Studies (ICAS) - a sister institution, The Times reported. The two colleges share many of the same staff. The Muslim students, who spoke to the daily on condition of anonymity, study their religious courses alongside a degree course in Islamic studies at ICAS, which is backed by Middlesex University. Their spokesman said the highlighted text, written by 13th century scholar Muhaqqiq al-Hilli, was just one of a number of books that some students found “disturbing” and “very worrying”, according to The Times. Mohammed Saeed Bahmanpour, a teacher at Hawza and ICAS, confirmed to the newspaper that the Hilli text was used, but denied it was taught as doctrine. AFP

Cheers <!--emo&:beer--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/cheers.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='cheers.gif' /><!--endemo-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--> <b>Hindu temple demolished in Malaysia </b>
link
Press Trust of India
Kuala Lumpur, April 21, 2006
<b>Malaysian authorities have demolished a century-old Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur, bulldozing the building as devotees cried and begged them to stop.</b>

<b>"The Malaimel Sri Selva Kaliamman Temple was reduced to rubble after Kuala Lumpur's city hall sent in bulldozers," </b>an eyewitness said.

In a complaint to police the temple's vice president, Subramaniam Ragappan, said about 300 devotees were praying on Tuesday when the machines arrived, accompanied by police and city hall officials.

<b>"We were forced to stop our prayers and rituals halfway as they proceeded to tear down the temple," Subramaniam said.</b>

<b>A copy of a letter from city hall to a local lawmaker, who had asked for the temple to be left intact, said the demolition was going ahead to make way for a building project.</b>

City hall officials were not immediately available for comment.

Subramaniam admitted that the city hall had tried in 2001 and again in 2004 to tear down the building, which was on government land, but had been dissuaded by politicians on each attempt.

<b>"Everybody was crying and saying how could the government do this, but they still broke the temple,"</b> he said.

"For 100 years we prayed there. How could they come to remove the temple?" he said, adding that they were given just one day's notice of the demolition <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<b>Muslim response to post-modernism</b>
Feuilleton

Prof Khwaja Masud

Some sixty-five years ago, I read a poem whose two verses remain etched indelibly in my mind.

The verses are:

<i>Under the fell clutch of circumstance
My head is bloody but unbowed</i>

I have been tossed hither and thither by strong intellectual and spiritual minds. Now, it is post-modernism that is posing a formidable challenge not only to me, but many like me, who have spent their lives in pursuit of truth and have suffered for it.

Now it is post-modernism that stares us in our face. Post-modernism has nothing to do about a period or an epoch. The post-modern is not what exists after modernity. In fact, post-modernism is a term which implies certain philosophical, intellectual and cultural tendencies.

Modernity was born by what are called Grand Narratives in the jargon of the post-modernists. In simple language, Grand Narratives are big ideas which give sense and direction in life. Such ideas are truth, reason, tradition, morality, religion, ideology etc. The post-modernists argue that these notions — Grand Narratives — do not live up to analytical scrutiny, hence are meaningless.

According to the post-modernists, all worldviews that claim absolute notions of truth — religion, science etc. — are artificial constructions that are totalitarian by their very nature.

As Richard Rorty, the American post-modernist, puts it: “Everything is a product of time and chance, everything is relative.”

The post-modernists accept nothing as absolute. If truth and reason are dead, what becomes of knowledge? Post-modernists consider all types of knowledge as well as sources of knowledge with equal scepticism. For a post-modernist like Feyerabend, there is hardly any difference between science and magic. For a post-modernist, knowledge is acquired not through inquiry but through imagination, As such, fiction rather than philosophy provides a better guide to human behaviour.

Wittgenstein and later on Derrida argue that all we have is language and its representation of reality is at best approximate and faulty. Hence, the post-modernists maintain that we see what we want to see. We see what our position in time and space allows us to see.

According to Lyotard, the standard-bearer of post-modernism, there is a paradigm shift in philosophy — it is a shift away from reason, and, above all, from philosophical certainty of Grand Narratives.

Lyotard’s major hypothesis maintains that the status of knowledge is changed as society enters the post-industrial stage — the age of cybernites, informatics, computers, TV and videos.

Baudrillard views the objectivity of societies, nation-states and history as simulacra (image). Media practices have rearranged our senses of space and time. What is real is no longer our direct contact with the world but what we are given on the screen: TV is the world. TV is dissolved into life and life is dissolved into TV. The fiction is realised and the reality becomes in-fictitious.

McLuhan is right when he says: “Medium is the message,” meaning not the content but the form of the medium is important. The function of TV is to prevent response, to privatize individuals, to place them into a world of simulacra (images) where it is impossible to distinguish between the spectacle and the real.

Post-modernism is the sensibility that arises when the credibility of the Grand Narratives is questioned. All theories claiming universality are rejected. Hence there are no universal solutions to the conclusion arrived at by post-modernism, which is characterised by multiplicity of discourses and pluralism.

When nothing is sacred, as the post-modernists claim, then fundamentalism arises as an attempt to resolve how to live in a world of radical doubt. In short, post-modernism ideologically paves the way for fundamentalism which is the religions garb of fascism.

The Muslim response to post-modernism is the same as it was to modernism, retreat accompanied by expressions of explosive wrath. But, retreat is not possible. Hence the paradox of the Muslims expressing their Muslim-ness in an essentially un-Islamic way. Algeria was turned into a killing field. The sectarian deaths in Pakistan are another example. Terrorism is no way to counter post-modernism.

The Muslims suffer from Andulas-syndrome: the sense of loss of which the Muslims became a carrier, when our civilisation collapsed in Spain in 1492, leaving a permanent trauma and a sense of bewilderment.

Milan Kundera calls it “litost” — a feeling which is synthesis of grief, sympathy, remorse and indefinable longing. We have lost the capacity to locate ourselves historically; hence we are bereft of self-respect and self-determination.

Islam appeared as a Grand Narrative, reflected in the principle of adl (balance), ihsan (compassion) with a thirst for ilm (knowledge), tolerance and pluralism as the guiding principle as laid down in the Quranic verse: “for you, your religion; for me, mine.”

In sharp contrast, the Muslims all over the world are involved in small narratives, reflected in their castrated, undemocratic politics, dependent economics and intellectual sterility. The Muslim intelligentsia has failed in communicating Islam’s relevance to modern life and its ability to meet the challenge of post-modernism.

I started off with verses from the poem whose last verses end on a defiant note:

<i>It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.</i>

The writer is a former principal of Gordon College, Rawalpindi
Email: khmasud22@yahoo.com
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Muslims suffer from Andulas-syndrome: the sense of loss of which the Muslims became a carrier, when our civilisation collapsed in Spain in 1492, leaving a permanent trauma and a sense of bewilderment.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

This is nonsense. No sub-continental Muslim had any connections to Andulusain Spain. Hence the so called loss did not effect them. If it did they would not have given trading rights to the Europeans. I submit that the European colonialism has stopped the 'reconquista' that was going on in India through the Mhrathas and the Sikhs.

I also submit the learned Prof Mahsud learnt of the loss of Spain from modernism. In fact if Andulusia was lost in 1492, in the same centruy in 1456, Istanbul was gained and Ottomon Turkey became an Empire that lasted till 1919. That should count as a gain. His bewilderment at loss of Muslim Spain should be matched by the joy of gaining Istanbul and the collapse of Byzantium Empire.
Unless the Prof is worried about Andulsian Spain as last vestige of Arab supremacy not repeated again since then.

For those who dont know the Spanish Moors claim descent from the Arabs and are not really Moorish.
--------------
Also how can he quote the poem which describes free will and be a Muslim? Isnt that an oxymoron? Hasnt Allah foretold what is the right way for a Muslim?

I think the guy is RAPE angusihing in how he cant be a 'true' Muslim.
http://www.artsjournal.com/artswatch/200...2291.shtml


The Most Dangerous Religion (Hint: It's Not Islam)


By Jack Miles & Douglas McLennan

Is international cultural conflict replacing political Cold War conflict?

Even before fanatical Muslims dynamited ancient Buddhist statues [The Telegraph] in Afghanstan’s Bamiyan Valley, scholar Samuel P. Huntington suggested that the answer might be yes.

Based on the most widely discussed article of the decade in Foreign Affairs, Huntington’s 1997 book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World predicted that <span style='color:red'>Islam would prove the most dangerous challenge for the West, because its people are “convinced of the superiority of their culture and obsessed with the inferiority of their power.”</span>

During the past decade, as if to confirm Huntington’s thesis, Muslims have fought (a partial list): Animists in Sudan; Coptic Christians in Egypt, Ethiopian Christians in Eritrea; Jews in Palestine; Eastern Orthodox Catholics in Yugoslavia, Chechnya, and Cyprus; Hindus in India; Roman Catholics in East Timor; Hindus, Confucians, and Christians of various denominations in Indonesia; and finally, of course, secular Westerners in Iraq.

Each of these conflicts has had its own history; but to the extent that Islam’s opponents in all these conflicts belong to an international, religiously pluralist, Western-dominated cosmopolitanism, they all may seem, to embattled Muslims, to be a single opponent. Paradoxically, however, those very embattled Muslims may have handed globalization a victory in Afghanstan.

The illicit sale of Afghanstan’s art treasures [International Herald Tribune], Islamic as well as non-Islamic, has been steadily increasing for a decade, well before the Taliban managed to take power five years ago, according to Souren Melikian, art editor of the International Herald Tribune and a cultural historian of central Asia.

The Bamiyan bombings will quite probably turn that already flourishing market into a raging bull market for the smugglers. “The ‘destroy’ order will provide a convenient smoke screen for the mass looting of the land, an operation that can be carried out only with the happy connivance of lower and mid-level authorities,” Melikian writes.

The Taliban has delivered a body blow to the already resented “heritage” movement in the Western art community—the view that ancient works should remain in their country of origin. “I must admit that I begin now to question our policy,[Los Angeles Times] and those of most museums in the Western world, to refrain from purchasing any object from the country of its origins,” writes Marianna Yaldiz, director of the Museum for Indian Art in Berlin to the editor of the art magazine Orientations.

It is in this legitimization of the smuggling, rather than in Muslim fanaticism, that the larger peril to cultural heritage may lie.

Whatever the threat in Afghanstan, there seems to be little similar danger in other Muslim countries. The edict of Mullah Muhammad Omar [Globe & Mail, Canada], leader of Taliban, the ruling party in Afghanstan, ordering all statues destroyed as idols because “worshippers might be tempted to pay homage” to them, has not been widely acclaimed by other Muslim authorities.

The Organization of Islam Conference has not condemned the bombings as Iranian President Muhammad Khatami asked it to do, but neither has it endorsed the edict, and Khatami is a major figure in his own right.

So is Abdul Sattar, the foreign minister of Pakistan, who twice officially urged that the edict be rescinded [Middle East Times], the second plea coming while he was in Mecca for the haj.

Burhanuddin Rabbani, whose rival Afghan party still holds Afghanstan’s seat at the United Nations, condemned the bombings [CNN.com] as un-Islamic as well as “anti-national and anti-cultural”. Muslim intellectuals, particularly in the West, have quoted the Koran against the Taliban [Los Angeles Times] and invoked the history of Muslim tolerance for non-Muslim, representative art as proof that the Taliban’s actions are aberrant in Islamic terms.

Sadly, the evidence was overwhelming, even before the bombings, that the most dangerous religion in the world, at least for art, remains the “religion” of the market. After the fall of the Najibullah regime in 1992, the victorious mujahedeen (Muslim holy warriors) went first for the gold in the national museum and only later discovered that foreigners would also pay for pots and statuary.

At that point, “a boom in independent excavations began in the country. The spoils went [east] through the Khyber Pass to the Pakistani city of Peshawar, which turned into a center of underground trafficking in Afghan antiquities. Prices are reported to have been sharply inflated by tourists from Japan, where interest in Buddhist culture is very high. According to Robert Kluyver of the Society for the Preservation of Afghanstan’s Cultural Heritage, Japanese collectors are prepared to pay [Itogi-Newsweek/MSNBC]. up to $1 million for a bas-relief depicting Buddha”

Objects looted in northern Afghanstan are smuggled into Russia [The Art Newspaper] “where they are fenced to the ‘new Russian mafia”. Smuggled Afghan manuscripts have turned up in substantial numbers in Northern Europe, especially Scandinavia [Purabudaya]. Plunder from western Afghanstan travels by way of Iran to Europe, especially to London, where a single statue can sell [Observer] for as much as £50,000.

Rather than a new story, the rape of Afghanstan’s artistic heritage is an old story in a new place. The tale of a tomb-robber [The Art Newspaper] recently published in The Art Newspaper may stand as proof that the classical heritage of the West remains, year in and year out, the liveliest commodity of all.

Still, Afghanstan, because of its remoteness, has remained relatively virgin smuggling territory, despite the extraordinary artistic interest of such ancient cultures as that of Gandhara, where Hellenism and Buddhism inseminated each other. Political turmoil, creating a desperate hunger for arms and for hard currency to buy them with, has now changed that.

To note all this is not really to refute Samuel P. Huntington. The mujahedeen may have turned to smuggling, but they are not simple smugglers. They are not in it merely for the money; at least not all of them are. Some of the same reports that document the smuggling also document religiously motivated destruction of objects that could have been, so to speak, sold for good money. The Bamiyan colossi themselves could quite literally have been held for ransom.

At this juncture, what will be required to save the art may be a prior political and humanitarian effort to save the people. In Middle Eastern Times, Shiraz Paracha writes: “After the world’s reaction over the statue issue, many in Afghanstan might ask whether the stone statues were more important [Middle East Times] than millions of starving human beings”.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York offered to buy the imperiled statues [The Times, London] and other threatened works, but there has been no comparable international campaign to save those who, Paracha reports, are “on the verge of death due to war and famine” in hellish refugee camps.

The trade in smuggled art from Afghanstan, on balance, is like the trade in poached ivory from Kenya. It feeds on the same desperation that fuels religious fanaticism. Rather than dealing first with the fanaticism, the West may need to deal first with the desperation. The illicit sale of art is one problem for which the market is not the solution.
<b>PAN-ISLAMIC JIHADIS AND ECONOMIC TERRORISM INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR: PAPER NO.49</b> -- by B. Raman

I am surprised why B.Raman never came up with any paper after Jama Masjid blast? Or did is missed is theory.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->To Kill a Muslim Freethinker

By MEMRI
FrontPageMagazine.com | May 3, 2006

Arab reformists are constantly threatened by Islamists, who consider freethinkers to be guilty of the worst of crimes. [1] The most recent death threat against Arab intellectuals was issued by Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
In an audiocassette released April 23, 2006, bin Laden addressed the issue of the Danish cartoons and what he regards as the Arab countries' failure to show an appropriate response. He emphasized that anyone mocking the Prophet or making fun of Islam should be killed.

Likewise, bin Laden attacked Arab "freethinkers," several of whom he mentioned by name, and called for them to be killed as well. He cited the precedent of Ka'b ibn Al-Ashraf, whom the Prophet had killed for writing poems against him, as a model for proper conduct in such cases. According to bin Laden, there is no need to consult anyone on this matter; every loyal Muslim should see it as his duty to eliminate these heretics.

The following are excerpts from bin Laden's speech, as posted by the reformist website Middle East Transparent on April 27, 2006. [2]

Freethinkers and Heretics who Defame Islam Should Be Killed

"To the entire Islamic nation...: This speech comes to further urge you and prompt you to [come to] the aid of the Prophet and punish those responsible for the vile crime being committed by some journalists from amongst the Crusaders and the apostate heretics, who have insulted the Prophet Muhammad…

"Imam Ahmad [3] said: 'Whoever reviles the Prophet or belittles him, be he Muslim or infidel, should be killed.' The freethinkers and heretics who defame Islam, and mock and scorn our noble Prophet - their case and the law concerning them have been clearly expounded by Imam Ibn Qayyim [Al-Jawziyya]. [4]  He made it clear that the crime committed by a freethinker is the worst of crimes, that the damage caused by his staying alive among the Muslims is of the worst kind of damage, that he is to be killed, and that his repentance is not to be accepted...

"Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya said, commenting on [Koran 9:12]: 'Whoever defames our religion is a leader of disbelief.' Many are the leaders of disbelief in our days in the lands of Islam, and many are the followers of Ka'b ibn Al-Ashraf in the Arabian Peninsula. [5] Many of them are writers in newspapers, and many of them are actors and broadcasters in the media. We warn here that a Muslim is not allowed to listen to any program that includes discussion with heretics, or any show that makes fun of Islam and of religious Muslims, for this is one of the greatest sins.

"How numerous are the heretics who are [government] ministers! And the foremost among them is the minister of labor in the Land of the Two Holy Shrines [i.e. Saudi Arabia], Ghazi Al-Qusaybi. Whoever wants to see the official fatwa proclaiming him guilty of disbelief and apostasy - such a fatwa was issued by former chief mufti 'Abd Al-'Aziz bin Baz, just as he issued a fatwa on the disbelief and apostasy of the heretic Shamlan Al-'Issa in Kuwait. [6]

"Among these heretics is Ahmad Al-Baghdadi [7] in Kuwait, and Turki Al-Hamad [8] in the Land of the Two Holy Shrines - a fatwa concerning the latter was issued by Sheikh Hamud Al-'Uqala - and many others like them. The book Modernity in the Balance of Islam [9] contains many of their names. Sheikh Sa'id Al-Ghamidi has also warned against them in his audio tapes..."

Do Not Consult Anyone About the Killing of These Heretics

"Indeed, this is our Prophet's law regarding anyone who mocks him, and belittles Islam and scorns it... They should be killed... Take an example from Muhammad ibn Maslama and his companions [who assassinated the poet Ka'b ibn Al-Ashraf]. It is intolerable and outrageous that the heretics are among us, scorning our religion and our Prophet.

"Therefore, you must fear Allah and do His will. Do not consult anyone about the killing of these heretics. Be secretive in carrying out that which is required of you.

"So much for the apostate heretics."

[1] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 254, "Arab Intellectuals: Under Threat by Islamists," November 23, 2005: http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=sub...form&ID=IA25405.

MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 208, "Accusing Muslim Intellectuals of Apostasy," February 18, 2005: http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=arc...a=ia&ID=IA20805.

MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1070, “Saudi Doctorate Encourages the Murder of Arab Intellectuals,” January 12, 2006: http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=sub...orm&ID=SP107006.

[2] http://www.metransparent.com/texts/bin_l...l_text.htm, April 27, 2006. The only prominent Arabic newspaper to attack bin Laden's threats was the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat in an editorial by its editor-in-chief, Tariq Al-Homayed.

[3] Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 855 CE), a famous traditionist, and author of the well-known hadith collection Musnad Ahmad ibn Handal.

[4] Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr (d. 1350), known as Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya, was Ibn Taymiyya's most eminent and trusted disciple.

[5] Ka'b ibn Al-Ashraf was one of the leaders of the Jewish tribe of Abu Nadhir, who was assassinated on Muhammad's orders (probably in 625 CE). According to Islamic sources, he incurred the Prophet's wrath by composing poetry calling to fight him and slandering Muslim women.

[6] Shamlan Al-'Issa is a political science lecturer at Kuwait University. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 224, "The Public Debate on Kuwait's School Curricula: To Teach or Not to Teach Jihad," June 2, 2005, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=arc...a=ia&ID=IA22405.

See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 242, "In the Arab Press: Criticism and Rejoicing at Hurricane Katrina," September 22, 2005, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=arc...a=ia&ID=IA24205.

[7] Ahmad Al-Baghdadi is a Kuwaiti intellectual. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No.1070, "Saudi Doctorate Encourages the Murder of Arab Intellectuals," January 12, 2006, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=arc...=sd&ID=SP107006.

[8] Turki Al-Hamad is a reformist Saudi intellectual.

[9] This book, written in 1988 by the Saudi fundamentalist preacher 'Awadh Al-Qarni, lists over 200 Arab authors, poets, researchers, philosophers, academics, literary critics, and journalists and accuses them of heresy - thus making their killing licit. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1070, "Saudi Doctorate Encourages the Murder of Arab Intellectuals," January 12, 2006, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=arc...=sd&ID=SP107006.

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadA...le.asp?ID=22297<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Writing a poem is un-Islamic or not?

Why visiting to Mecca is not considered idolatry? Hindu visit temple or Christian visit Church, they stand in front of Idol and pray.
Same Muslim does when they visit Mecca, they perform ritual. Why performing ritual is not considered un-Islamic.
<b>Into space in a time warp — Razi Azmi</b>

When the Soviet Union launched the world’s first satellite into space in 1957, the United States scrambled to catch up and created the National Aeronautical and Space Agency (NASA). Four years later, Yuri Gagarin of Russia became the first man to go into space.

American Alan Shepard followed him after 23 days, on May 5, 1961. The huge American investment in space research paid off and, eight years later, the US became the first country to land man on the moon.

The stiff competition between the two superpowers had crossed the frontiers of this earth as we knew it and entered space, the forbidden zone traditionally known as high heaven. The world viewed it as the contest between two systems vying for global superiority, the capitalist and communist systems.

For their part, many Muslim countries of the world continued to be client states of either the United States or the Soviet Union, seeking the economic and military support of one or the other superpower, sometimes switching sides from political, military or economic expediency, or threatening to do so to increase their bargaining power.

<b>As to scientific and technological achievements, large numbers of Muslims even refused to believe that Neil Armstrong had, indeed, stepped on the moon and rejected the American claim as false. A man walking on the moon contradicted their traditional religious beliefs and was, therefore, regarded as impossible.</b>

But as more and more American and Russian space probes landed on the moon sending photos and bringing back specimen rocks and the force of evidence appeared overwhelming, most traditionalist Muslims silently, if reluctantly, reconciled themselves to the reality of man’s physical intrusion of the forbidding sky, hitherto regarded as the realm of the spirits, satans and angels. A few even began to stretch some obscure references in the sacred texts to contend that space travel was not just possible but had been foretold.

<b>Then, the Ummah rejoiced in the happy “news” that Armstrong had converted to Islam, apparently as a result of hearing the azaan (the Muslim call to prayer) on the moon. Of course, there was no such incident and no conversion, but so strong was the rumour that Armstrong was constrained officially to deny it.</b>

Now, a Muslim is ready to enter space, but as a passenger on a Russian spaceship. The agreement to send a Malaysian aboard a Russian spacecraft was part of a billion-dollar deal in which Russia will sell Malaysia 18 Sukhoi 30-MKM fighter jets. For the time being, that is the pinnacle of achievement by any Muslim country in the arena of space science.

While the Russians provide the technological wherewithal and deal with the complex scientific aspects of the space voyage, Muslim Malaysia is pondering the weighty spiritual issues, such as its astronaut’s ability to perform his religious duties in space. The country’s National Space Agency (Angkasa) is holding a two-day conference that is expected to “answer questions relating to Muslim life in space, like how can Muslim astronauts pray or fast”.

The “Islam and Life in Space” conference is to be attended by more than 150 scientists, astronauts, religious scholars and academics. An official from the Malaysian Astronomy and Islamic Law Association said that the conference would be “the first time the Islamic world mulled life in space”.

Performing ablutions for Muslim prayers with water rationing in space and preparing food according to Islamic standards will be among the issues discussed, Angkasa Director General Mazlan Othman was quoted as saying by Malaysia’s state-run Bernama news agency. “We have to make preparations to discuss [these issues] with Russia when the time comes,” she added.

<b>The astronaut will also visit the International Space Station, which circles the earth 16 times in 24 hours, raising many delicate questions. For instance, ascertaining the direction of Mecca for prayers in space will require pinpointing a moving target while in zero gravity. <span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>Prayer times for Muslims are linked to the times of the sunrise and sunset, but in orbit the sun appears to rise and set more than 12 times a day.</span></b>

One hopes the 150 assembled scientists and religious scholars will find appropriate answers to these questions that are agitating the Malaysian government. After all, which Muslim government worth the name will want one of its Muslim citizens to be cast in hell in the hereafter for the sake of space research in this world, especially when he is doing so in response to his country’s call!

For more than 100 years since 1901, the Nobel Prizes for physics, chemistry and physiology/medicine have been awarded to the world’s most distinguished scientists every year. Sad to say, however, that the only Muslim to be honoured with a Nobel Prize in any of these fields is US-based Ahmed Hassan Zewail of Egypt (Chemistry, 1999).

The closest the Ummah ever came to getting a Nobel Prize in physics was when UK-based Professor Abdus Salam of Pakistan was awarded the prize in 1979. But he belonged to the Ahmadi sect and the national parliament of his country had, five years earlier, voted to expel the sect from the fold of Islam. In fact, under Pakistani law, the learned professor could have gone to prison if he had offended the religious sensitivities of his Muslim compatriots by referring to himself as a Muslim, rather than an Ahmadi!

It is interesting to note that mullahs and their followers heartily adopt and enjoy the products of science while disparaging and discouraging the pursuit of science. This includes a whole range of products, from computers, airplanes, motor vehicles and organ transplants down to printing, tape-recorders and loudspeakers.

Science has long made it possible to predict with absolute accuracy the time of the appearance of the moon in any particular region many years in advance. Yet, Muslims insist on the actual “sighting” of the moon with the “naked eye” as per tradition to begin and end the fasting month of Ramazan.

In an interesting and opportunistic twist to tradition, however, our leading clerics in the shape of the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee (literally, the Committee for the Sighting of the Moon) fly in an airplane provided by the government to sight the moon with their own two eyes to announce the beginning and end of the holy month!

Computers are now used to store, retrieve and disseminate religious texts and messages and to broadcast the azaan in homes. Tape recorders and loudspeakers are used at mosques and printing is extensively used for publishing religious tracts. Yet, the aversion for science, technology and reason persists in the name of religious tradition.

<b>Muslim countries are destined to remain on the fringes of science, while the rest of the world forges ahead, so long as they do not reject the traditionalist and literal interpretations of their religion by mullahs and ayatollahs and adopt common sense, reason and science. <span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>Renting a berth on another country’s spacecraft or making a nuclear bomb or a missile with borrowed or imported technology do not rate as achievements but rather lay bare the deficiencies of the Muslim world.</span>

There can be no competition between a Muslim culture which is frozen in time and the West which has moved light-years ahead thanks to its uninhibited pursuit of scientific knowledge. The clash of civilisations often cited in editorial comments since the appearance of Samuel Huntington’s famous book by that name is just that — a clash, not a competition.</b>

The writer can be contacted at raziazmi@hotmail.com

Cheers
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Who will stand up and speak for Islam?   </b>
Khalid Hasan : Private view 
FT
Tarek Fatah, the bane of Canada’s large and on-the-march community of screaming clerics, which now includes the Dar-ul-Huda lady, Dr Farhat Hashmi, wants to know <b>why Muslims in Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria, Nigeria and Egypt rioted, causing death and destruction to protest the Danish cartoons, have said not a word about the planned destruction of the home of the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace) by the Saudi government.</b> This indeed is a puzzling question and no one has so far come up with an answer.

I thought the best person to ask this question was the one who had asked it first. A call to Tarek Fatah in Toronto, the city that Farhat Hashmi has chosen to sink her fangs into, had him saying that<b> the Muslims of the world had suffered a collective loss of rational thinking. Since they have no faith in themselves or their future, they have sunk into their past, he said. “My feeling is that the Muslim leadership is almost universally bereft of any integrity or courage. Since the attack on the Prophet’s mother’s grave was carried out by the rich and powerful ruling house of Saud, no one will dare speak or protest. Had a Bangladeshi committed this act, the Mullahs would have been exhorting their congregations and madrassa pupils to take to the streets. But they dare not speak against those who butter their bread.” He argues, “It was easy going against the Danes and calling for a boycott of Lego and Danish cheese, but did anyone ask for a boycott of Microsoft, General Motors or other essential luxury American goods or services?”.</b>

KH Khurshid has recorded that the Quaid-i-Azam would get worked up when someone would talk about the glorious age of Islam. He would tell the person not to regale him with stories of Islam’s past glory. “What are you today?” he would ask. Today, the Muslim leadership, both clergy and politicians, is caught up in a medieval cobweb; the peasant in the village, the worker in the sweatshop, is a realist and his ideas are progressive. <b>Recently, Fatah heard a Muslim leader in Toronto tell a gathering that the Muslims of India were in the sorry state they were in because of the Taj Mahal, which, he said, should be demolished since it was sinful to build such structures. God, he said, was punishing the Indian Muslims because they had allowed this wicked structure to stand on the soil of India for so long.</b> <!--emo&Big Grin--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='biggrin.gif' /><!--endemo-->

There is no dearth of Muslims in Pakistan, America and Canada who fervently believe that God punished us with <b>the October 2005 earthquake because of our sins and for neglecting our religious duties. Had everyone prayed five times a day and had all the men let their beards grow and had all the women put on not the hijab but the niqab , divine punishment would not have been sent down</b>. If you ask them what those thousands of flower-like children, who were buried alive in their schools, had done to earn divine wrath, you are told that the punishment was collective and some innocents also perished, but had their parents not been sinners, they would have been spared. What can you do with a mindset like that, except to hit your head into the first wall you come to?

But to return to the demolition of the grave of the Prophet’s mother, ironically it is the British newspaper, The Independent , and not one from a Muslim country, that has carried a report about this outrage. Daniel Howden’s story, published on 19 April, says that, “<b>Previously unseen photographs reveal how religious zealots obsessed with idolatry have colluded with developers to destroy Islam’s diverse heritage</b>.” He talks of a “growing shadow” being cast over Islam’s holiest site, as only a few metres from the walls of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, skyscrapers are reaching further into the sky, slowly blocking out the light. <b>“These enormous and garish newcomers now dwarf the elegant black granite of the Kaaba. . . The tower blocks are the latest and largest evidence of the destruction of Islamic heritage that has wiped almost all of the historic city from the physical landscape. As revealed (in an earlier issue, the) historic cities of Mecca and Medina are under an unprecedented assault from religious zealots and their commercial backers.” </b>

The correspondent writes that the Wahabis live in “fanatical fear that places of historical or religious interest could give rise to alternative forms of pilgrimage or worship. Their obsession with combating idolatry has seen them flatten all evidence of a past that does not agree with their interpretation of Islam.” Irfan Ahmed al-Alawi, the chairman of the Islamic Heritage Foundation, told the newspaper that<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'> the case of the grave of Amina bint Wahb, the mother of the Prophet (pbuh), found in 1998, is typical of what has happened. “It was bulldozed in Abwa and gasoline was poured on it.” Today there are fewer than 20 structures remaining in Mecca that date back to the time of the Prophet (pbuh). “The litany of this lost history includes the house of Khadijah, the wife of the Prophet (pbuh), demolished to make way for public lavatories; the house of Abu Bakr, the Prophet’s (pbuh) companion, now the site of the local Hilton hotel; the house of Ali-Oraid, the grandson of the Prophet (pbuh), and the Mosque of Abu-Qubais, now the location of the King’s palace in Mecca.</span>

<b>“Yet the same oil-rich dynasty that pumped money into the Taliban regime as they blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan six years ago has so far avoided international criticism for similar acts of vandalism at home.”</b>

Dr Mai Yamani, an author, says it is time for other Muslim governments to ignore the Sauds’ oil wealth and speak out. “What is alarming about this is that the world doesn’t question the al-Sauds’ custodianship of Islam’s two holy places. These are the sites that are of such importance to over one billion Muslims and yet their destruction is being ignored,” she has said, adding,<b> “When the Prophet (pbuh) was insulted by Danish cartoonists, thousands of people went into the streets to protest. The sites related to the Prophet (pbuh) are part of their heritage and religion, but we see no concern from Muslims.”</b>

Al-Nour may be the next to go. Home to the Hira’a cave, it was here that the Prophet (pbuh) received the first verses of the Quran. According to the British newspaper, hardline clerics want it destroyed to stop pilgrims visiting. At the foot of the hill, they have inscribed a fatwa that says, “The Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) did not permit us to climb on to this hill, to pray here, to touch stones, and tie knots on trees.”

Let Qazi Hussain Ahmed, who claims to be Islam’s great defender, stand up and speak!
<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Wednesday, May 10, 2006

In terror war, US Muslims wary of American ‘outreach’

By Caroline Drees

US counter-terrorism officials are trying to build closer ties with Muslim and Arab Americans through so-called outreach efforts

WHEN US soldiers raid a cave in Afghanistan, FBI agent William Kowalski knows to expect a call at his office in Detroit.

“When a military raid goes on in Kabul, or in a cave, and they find a computer that contains an address book or names and phone numbers, invariably I’m going to get a call here that says, ‘We did a raid and there was this 313 (Detroit-region) area code phone number in it. Check it out,’” Kowalski said.

The Detroit area, and especially the suburb of Dearborn, is home to the largest Arab American community in the United States, potentially fertile ground for US officials looking for information and help to fight the war on terrorism. Counter-terrorism officials are trying to build closer ties with Muslim and Arab Americans through so-called outreach efforts. These include town hall meetings, discussions with community leaders and one-on-one talks with local residents at mosques, schools or cultural events.

Officials hope closer ties will encourage community members - who are just as eager to live in safety as other Americans - to tip off authorities about suspicious newcomers or militant activities, allowing agents to foil possible plots before it’s too late.

Agents believe immigrant communities may have unique links to conflict areas and can help them distinguish between useful leads and red herrings after incidents such as the raids Kowalski described.

But many Muslim and Arab Americans fear the bridge-building initiative that began after the Sept 11 attacks means little more than propaganda, recruitment and spying.

“It’s not about reaching out to us and including us,” said community activist Kenwah Dabaja, whose family emigrated to the United States from Lebanon. “The community is nervous.”

Federal, state and local counterterrorism officials say bridging this gap in understanding is key to protecting the country, but efforts are stumbling over deep-seated mistrust and suspicions. Many Arab and Muslim Americans say they have felt the target of racism and discrimination after the 2001 attacks, and they accuse law enforcement officials of singling them out for scrutiny in the fight against terrorism.

“One thing everybody is taught in this country is that you are innocent until proven guilty, but it seems this is not working with regard to the Muslim community anymore,” said Imam Hassan al-Qazwini, the Iraqi-born head of one of the largest US mosques in Dearborn.

‘Haven’t done enough’: One senior US counter-terrorism official in Washington acknowledged that “we haven’t done enough” to cooperate with Arab and Muslim immigrants against terrorism.

He said the government had to beef up intelligence gathering at home by building trust between officials and Americans of Middle Eastern descent, linking local police more closely into communities and encouraging residents to volunteer information.

Government agencies as well as state and local law enforcement also say they are eager to hire Arab Americans so their workforce better reflects the community.

“Our job is to convince them (community members) that they can trust us so that they can come forward with information that will further our investigations, or points us in the right direction if they see suspicious individuals,” said Kowalski, who is the FBI’s acting special agent in charge in Detroit.

He said the number of Arab Americans was so large in his area that almost every US security investigation at home and abroad touched his community in some way.

Brian Moskowitz, the Detroit-based special agent in charge for the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said intense outreach efforts to community members since the 2001 attacks - including monthly sessions with Arab and Muslim American leaders - had certainly enhanced security cooperation.

“I don’t think it (terrorism) is different than any other crime in the sense that you need to have your sources, your ears and eyes as close to the action as possible,” he said. “Law enforcement in general terms has gotten information from the community here. They come because they feel they can.”

Community wary: Michael Bouchard, a Detroit area sheriff who is the only Arab American running for the Senate this fall, said law enforcement had begun to take steps to improve security cooperation with the community, “but it takes time. Every time you have a long-standing misunderstanding and distrust, it takes time to break that down.”

Several community members - and even one Washington-based official who spoke on condition of anonymity - said the authorities were probably not plugged into the communities well enough to know if any extremists were lurking there.

Dearborn activist Dabaja said government “outreach” was a misnomer. “It’s not really outreach. To some it’s recruiting and propaganda spreading,” she said, adding there was a need for genuine closer ties.

Some community members also feared they were under surveillance, especially after the disclosure of domestic wiretapping as part of counter-terrorism efforts.

Imam Qazwini praised the regular meetings senior administration and law enforcement officials have held with community leaders like him, but he said it wasn’t enough.

“Outreach means that you treat me equally and respect me like any other US citizen. You don’t look at me with a suspicious eye unless you have overwhelming evidence,” he said. Reuters


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