Tag Archives: Bangladesh


9 Jun



Unite but Follow me ;British Muslims

There is almost something eerie about writing on British Muslim
representation. For decades Muslim political and public aspirations
have either been focused overseas or hijacked by angry young
men who believe it is ‘haram’ to engage in politics in a non-Muslim
That was then and due to the relentless global traumas hitting the
Muslim world, British Muslims have been forced to stand up and be
counted. One sign of our coming of age has been the acceptance of
the term of British Muslim. Regular readers of Q-News will remember
the barrage of letters that greeted the use of this term by the ‘angry
brigade’ who made differentiating between being a ‘British Muslim’
or a ‘Muslim in Britain’ the central thesis of their political agenda.
Thankfully, this is no longer the case and we can get on with dealing
with the really important issues.
British Muslim political awareness has been slow and reluctant.
Two main factors have contributed to this. Firstly, has been the ‘goinghome’
syndrome amongst Muslim first generation settlers resulting in
the lack of investment in community infrastructure other than essential
prayer facilities, madrasah provision and halal meat. The second
factor is the legal invisibility of the Muslim community, thanks to an
institutionally Islamophobic and race biased political system.
But, to suggest Muslims have been politically inactive during the
last four or five decades would be erroneous. While not engaging in
mainstream British politics in any organised way, Muslim communities
settling in Britain have kept a vigilant eye on politics back home.
Newspapers and channels like the Daily Jang and Al-Jazeera have
diligently been reporting on the state of the Muslim world helping to
both form and forge opinion. The British Muslim understanding of
these issues is relatively more passionate, more articulate and more
When not keeping an eye on back-home politics, mosque committees
became the next focus of Muslim ambition with aspiring leaders
of the fledgling community vying with each other to win the hearts
and souls of the faithful. Eventually or inevitably, factions and subfactions
developed representing the various religious, political and
cultural divides in the Muslim world. As the small rooms and terraced
mosques rented or bought through the hard earned money of early
migrants evolved into purpose built structures funded from the
Middle East, so too did the increase in internal conflicts and intrigues.
In this vacuum, some Muslim groups formed with the intention of
doing dawah. These groups were not interested in engaging in mainstream
society and were often hostile to it. They were mainly interested
in gathering Muslim allegiances to their theological or political
As the need to engage in mainstream political processes became
Muslim candidates once elected found themselves in an agenda dilemma – were they there to repre


apparent, those frustrated with internal shenanigans turned their
attention towards mainstream society. This development operated
more at an individual level with some Muslims becoming active in the
struggles against racism and others standing for local councils. To
what extent this development actually engaged the Muslim community
is dubious, as mainstream political parties were often looking
more for ‘racial’ window dressing than meaningful engagement.
Muslim candidates once elected found themselves in an agenda
dilemma – were they there to represent Muslims, the politics of
their party or the constituents who elected them? While the latter two
are obviously correct, representing Muslims and Muslim issues became
more contentious. Muslim councillors found that being Muslim and
speaking on issues that concerned a ‘faith-based’ community was not
easy. But, this was not so for other minorities as representatives from
the Irish, Caribbean, Hindu and Jewish communities found that they
were not penalised for speaking as members of their specific community
or on its behalf. The result of this was that the politics of Muslim
councillors went sideways and focused more on internal ‘nest-making’
than community building.
Muslim representation in other areas of public life like the media,
sports, public bodies and the legal profession has also been slow and
meandering. Those that have succeeded have usually had to park their
Muslim identity outside the door. Individuals that have succeeded have
not done so because being Muslim was anything significant to them
and in fact, the few that get through are over-represented by those who
feel alienated or hostile to Islam. Professionally speaking, these
Muslims usually kept their faith low-profile until it became more lucrative
to ‘step out of the closet’ and tout for available opportunities particularly
since 9/11.
Prior to 9/11 Muslim participation in mainstream British society
had been limited primarily due to the inadequacies of the Race
Relations Act and the reluctance of successive governments to recognise
the existence of faith based communities and their experience of
religious discrimination. More specifically, there has been a reluctance
to acknowledge historical and institutionally entrenched Islamophobia.
While the men formed groups in never ending variations, it was left
to Muslim women and young people to get on with the work that needed
to be done. Most Muslim organisations are void of women and
young people. Those women who are involved are rarely given authority
and most are kept in the margins. Women and young people are seldom
acknowledged, consulted or appreciated and the role of women
more often than not is relegated to that of a women’s auxiliary – providing
tea and cooking the after meeting nosh for our elder male statesmen.
Being excluded from decision-making, Muslim women, who tend
to be in the frontline of meeting social needs, have been forced to make
themselves relevant. While you may not necessarily see them at photo
calls and high powered delegations you will see them getting training in
education, media, social work, health care and counselling. Muslim
women are now a quiet but potent presence in statutory bodies and
other public arenas increasingly becoming team managers, directors of
departments and chairs of committees. Women’s organisations have led
the way in setting agendas and developing much needed social welfare
projects that support families and heal communities. All of these efforts
contribute significantly to the development of Muslim-sensitive social
welfare services.
For young Muslims the Rushdie Affair proved to be a major catalyst.
For the first time young people took to the streets more concerned
really about their own discontentment than any pertinent
understanding of the Satanic Verses. But, unfortunately no one listened
to their voices and while some Muslims organisations set up youth initiatives
they tended to be dawah orientated and not responding to real
needs on the ground. Young people experiencing racism,
Islamophobia, social and family disintegration needed more tangible
help. They needed a multitude of resources for activities such as sports
and leisure, personal development, employment opportunities and
most importantly they needed support through the various challenges
posed by being young, British and Muslim.
It took the riots of 2001 for young British Muslim to make their
discontent heard and then it was already too late. Responding once the
horse has bolted requires the double effort of not only resolving the
current crisis but also in investing in avoiding crisis from erupting
again. Once again Muslim trouble spots have been the focus of attention
and endless reports have been written, but we remain without
with any real objective understanding of the issues, without any meaningful
leadership and without the development of a forward thinking
Muslim agenda.
Given our checkered history with public participation and representation
the burning question, that still needs to be asked, is: Who
represents British Muslims?
present Muslims, the politics of the party they represent or the constituents who elected them?

Courtesy; Q-News


Images ;


Hazrat Abubacker Siddique (RadiAllhuanho)

9 Jun

He is Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, ‘Atiq ibn Abi Quhafa, Shaykh al-Islam, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Uthman ibn ‘Amir al-Qurashi al-Taymi (Radiallahu anhu) (d. 13H). Alone among the companions, Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (Radiallahu anhu) led the community in prayer in the lifetime of the Prophet (Sallallahu Walaihi Wassallam). [As narrated from Abu Musa al-Ash’ari by Bukhari and Muslim. Note: Abu Bakr did not lead the Prophet (Sallallahu Walaihi Wassallam) in prayer. When the Prophet (Sallallahu Walaihi Wassallam) came out to pray in congregation for the last time, Abu Bakr moved to give him his place as Imam, but the Prophet (Sallallahu Walaihi Wassallam) told him to stay where he was and prayed sitting to the left of Abu Bakr] Umar faith outweighs the faith of the entire Umma.” [Narrated by Umar with a sound chain by Abdullah Ibn al-Mubarak in al-Zuhd, al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Iman and al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi in Nawadir al-Usul. The Prophet said “I am excused, before each of my friends, of any intimate friendship with anyone. But if I were to take an intimate friend, I would take Ibn Abi Quhafa (Abu Bakr) as my intimate friend. Verily, your Companion is the intimate frend of Allah!” [Narrated from Ibn Mas’ud by al-Tirmidhi who said it is hasan sakeh] The Prophet said “It is impermissible for a people among whom is Abu Bakr , to be lead by other than him.” [Narrated from A’isha by al-Tirmidhi who said it is hasan] The Prophet said “Take for your leaders those who come after me: Abu Bakr and Umar .” [Narrated from Hudhayfa and Ibn Mas’ud by Ahmad with several good chains, al-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah. Al-Tirmidhi said it is hasan) The Prophet said to Abu Darda’ “Do not walk infront of your better. Verily, Abu Bakr is the best of those upon whom the sun rose or set.” [Narrated from Abu al-Darda’ by al-Tabarani and Ibn ‘Asakir with a fair chain.]
said: “Abu Bakr’s

Following the Madhab or Taqlid

7 Jun

The acceptance without proof of a statement of another on the belief that the statement is being made in accordance with facts and proof (daleel) is called Taqleed.

Hadhrat Aswaad Bin Yazid Rathi Allahu anhu narrates:
” Hadhrat Mu’aath ( Rathi Allahu ta ala anhu ) came to us in Yemen as a teacher and commander. We questioned him regarding a man who had died leaving (as his heir) a daughter and a sister. He decreed half the estate for the daughter and half for the sister. This was while Rasulullah Sall Allahu alaihi wa Sallim was alive.” Bukhari and Muslim

From this hadith Shareef we can see that Taqleed was in vogue during the time of Rasulullah Sall Allahu alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallim. The questioner (in the hadith) didn’t ask for proof from Holy Qur’an and Sunnah. He accepted the ruling on the integrity, piety and righteousness of Hadhrat Mu’aath lbn Jabal Rathi Allahu ta ‘ala anhu. This is a perfect example of Taqleed. This hadith proves that the concept of Taqleed Shakhsi (accepting a ruling on Islamic law without asking for proof) has been around since the time of Rasulullah Sall Allahu alaihi wa Sallim. Holy Last Nabiyy Sall Allahu alaihi wa Sallim had appointed Hadhrat Mu’aath Rathi Allahu ta ‘ala anhu to provide religious instruction to the people of Yemen.
It is therefore evident that Rasulullah Sall Allahu alaihi wa Sallim granted the people of Yemen the right and permission ( lthn ) to follow the Mathhab of Hadhrat Mu’aath Rathi Allahu ta ‘ala anh in all affairs of Deen.

The evil ‘ulama dare not outright attack the principles of Taqleed so they attack It by saying that the followers of a Mathhab must know the proof upon which the ruling of the Mathhab is based, and to accept the ruling without proof is shirk (to worship someone or something beside Allahu ta ‘ala ).

“The Wahhabi book “Fath-ul- Majeed” says on It Its 66, 107 and 386th pages that it is necessary to do Ijtihaad in every time. It says on its 387 and 390th pages that those who follow a Mathhab should know the proofs of their Mathhab. If they do not know they become polytheists. On Its 432nd page, it contradicts itself by saying that the ignorant cannot do Ijtihaad (draw rules of how to practice Deen directly from Holy Qur’an and Hadith)

There is ample proof that in this day and age when most of the people are concerned with this worldly life and suffer from Hubb-e-Dunya ( love of the World ) and follow the dictates of the lower desires, if left alone to make decisions for themselves the vast majority would judge according to that which of course appeals to the lower desires. This is evident even among the so- called ‘Ulama who have strayed from the path and because of Hubb-e-Dunya write fataawa for deviated and fasiq governments in Muslim countries. Making Heal Hiram and making Haraam Halaal, they declare Muslims as kuffar while accepting funds from their corrupt masters for their work. These individuals think they are on par with the true ‘Ulama and the pious Shaikhs while shunning even the most basic of Islamic duties.

Chinese Hostiliy towards Muslims

4 May

CAIRO – The Chinese government is settling millions of ethnic Han Chinese in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang territory with the ultimate goal of obligating its identity and culture, with many Muslims feeling foreigners in their homeland.

“They are destroying the demographic balance by bringing in Chinese people,” Qutub, a clothes trader in a bazaar in the regional capital of Urumqi, told the Christian Science Monitor in an interview published on Monday, April 28.

“They want our race to vanish. They are drying out our roots.”

The government has been campaigning for decades to settle more and more ethnic Han Chinese in Xinjiang, a territory that is home to millions of the ethnic Uighur minority.

In 1949, when the government took over Xinjiang, Han Chinese made up less than 7 percent of the region’s population.

Now they stand at more than 40 percent, and their numbers are growing.

Uighurs complain that Han have brought their own culture and customs into the Muslim-majority province.

Most of the major companies are owned by Han who largely employ people of their ethnicity, leaving the menial jobs to Uighurs.

Uighurs are treated as second-class citizens with their distinctive Turkic dialect banned in schools and a marginal representation in government departments.

“We feel like foreigners in our own land,” complains Batur, a Uighur teacher in Urumqi.

“We are like the Indians in America.”

The north-west region of Xinjiang, home to an eight-million Uighur minority, has been autonomous since 1955 but continues to be the subject of security crackdowns.

Beijing views Xinjiang as an invaluable asset because of its crucial strategic location near Central Asia and its large oil and gas reserves.


One major concern to many Uighurs is their Muslim religion, which continues to face a suppressive campaign.

“There is no religious freedom here,” one cotton farmer in a village 50 miles south of the Kucha, a predominantly Uighur town of 200,000, told the Monitor.

Muslims in Xinjiang complain about the closure of mosques and religious schools under the pretext of lacking the required license to run.

The government’s regulations forbid young Muslims under the age of 18 from praying in mosques.

Recently introduced regulations prevent local government employees from going to the mosque, teachers from sporting beards and students from bringing the Qur’an to university, human rights activists say.

In Kucha, 50 young men have been recently arrested for studying at private religious schools.

On the wall of the 16th-century ochre brick mosque in the city, a red government banner reads “Fight against Illegal Religious Activity.”

Inside the mosque’s prayer hall, a notice board explains the “illegal” religious activities with a long list topped by a ban to “praise jihad” or “pan-Islamism.”

The government justifies its endless crackdowns on Uighurs in the name of anti-separatism and counter-terrorism.

“If you get too religious, the government gets worried,” says the cotton farmer.

Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, agrees.

He says the government “conflates any religious activities outside the official framework with terrorism and separatism.”

Rights groups have long accused Beijing of religious repression against Uighur Muslims.

Last month, the authorities claimed that an alleged plot to attack the Olympics was foiled in Xinjiang.

They also said a flight from Urumqi narrowly escaped a hijacking attempt.

But experts and rights activists said the announcements, which could not be verified independently, seemed exaggerated and only a pretext for more crackdowns on Xinjiang Muslims.

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Beyond Pakistan’s 9/11

1 Jan

Beyond Pakistan’s 9/11

 Telescoped into Bhutto’s assassination is an ongoing struggle within Islam that globalisation is bringing to a head. In all probability, Bhutto has dealt with this crisis in her forthcoming book that attempts at reconciling Islam and modernity Benazir Bhutto’s assassination on December 27, 2007 virtually amounts to Pakistan’s 9/11. As the country was rattled by shock, disbelief and outrage, Baitullah Mehsud, Al Qaeda’s chief in Pakistan, and a cleric in Waziristan were congratulating each other on Bhutto’s killing, as indicated by the transcript of a telephonic conversation between the two released by the government on Friday.The graphic increase in Deobandi militancyThe terrorists had every reason to be jubilant: they had silenced the one voice that consistently warned of the grave danger religious extremism posed to Pakistan’s viability as a modern democratic state. Indeed, the struggle for democracy for Bhutto was inseparable from reclaiming the ‘real Pakistan’ from the encroachments of religious extremists. This had become clear from the moment of her return after 8 years of exile on October 18, 2007. Overwhelmed by the rapturous welcome of her People’s Party supporters at Karachi airport, she declared, “This is the real Pakistan…not the militants, nor the military…we are giving voice to the moderates that don’t want to see this country taken over by terrorists”. ajmer-large-msg-116201364435.jpgHowever, the festive mood of the welcoming crowd reflected only one face of the ‘real Pakistan’ — the pluralism of devotional Sufism factored into mass politics. Another face was Jinnah’s mausoleum symbolising the founding father’s modernist vision, where her procession was headed but never made it because of the suicide bombing. The disruption of her rally simply mirrored Pakistan’s reality: a rudderless society held hostage by religious extremism. In such a milieu, her assassination was a story foretold.Even so, blaming President Musharraf or a security lapse for the assassination would miss the larger picture. As noted in a Daily Times news analysis (“Who killed Benazir Bhutto?” December 29, 2007) Bhutto’s assassination also needs to be seen as part of the crisis of globalisation — where the free flow of capital, technology and information is changing the way people think and live and creating tensions between tradition and modernity — of which the bombings of girls’ schools in Swat and Waziristan is one example.

Telescoped into Bhutto’s assassination is an ongoing struggle within Islam that globalisation is bringing to a head. In all probability, Bhutto has dealt with this crisis in her forthcoming book that attempts at reconciling Islam and modernity and where she hopes to present Pakistan as “a positive model for 1 billion Muslims around the world”. A theme that also resonates though her campaign manifesto calling for “a moderate and modern Islam that marginalises religious extremists, treats all citizens and especially women with equal rights, selects its leaders by fair and free elections, and provides for transparent, democratic governance that addresses the social and economic needs of the people as its highest priority”.

Until such time that her book is published, it is useful to draw a leaf from Akbar Ahmed’s new book to help understand the nature of the crisis we are facing today. Entitled “Journey into Islam: Islam and the Crisis of Globalisation” (Penguin, 2007), Ahmed’s is an account and analysis of “how Muslims are constructing their religious identities” under the impact of globalisation and a ‘War on Terror’ that has heightened tensions between Muslims and the West on the one hand, and Muslims themselves on the other.

Ahmed analyses these tensions in terms of three ‘models’ of Islam, giving each model the name of an Indian city — Ajmer, Deoband and Aligarh. The names are broad generic terms for three different (and often conflicting) approaches to Islam worldwide.

ajmer-large-msg-116201180081.jpgThe Ajmer model refers to “all those Muslims inspired by the Sufi and the mystical tradition within Islam”. Islamic figures in this model range from Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti, founder of the Chishti Sufi order buried in Ajmer, Maulana Rumi, and Fethullah Gulen, a hafiz-e Quran who became “a great Sufi master himself through the inspiration of Maulana Rumi” and has millions of followers involved in educational reform.

Likewise, Aligarh, site of the first modern college founded in India, includes nineteenth century reformers like Syed Ahmed Khan in India and Muhammad Abduh in Egypt, the socialist and modernising leaders of the Middle East, and the democratic leaders of Malaysia.

Aligarh, then, reflects “a broad but distinct modernist Muslim response to the world”. And whether they are devout or secular Muslims, followers of Aligarh share the desire to engage with modern ideas while preserving what to them is essential Islam.

As for Deoband, drawing its name from India’s leading madrassa founded in the 19th century, it refers to orthodox mainstream Islamic movements — the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas in the Middle East. Besides Ibn Tamiya in the past, these movements are identified with modern religious figures like Syed Qutb and Maulana Maududi. “Taliban, Osama bin Laden, and members of Al Qaeda also identify with the same spiritual lineage and argue that changes in the world are anathema to Islam, which can only be preserved by retreating to its beginnings, in the Prophet’s [pbuh] example and the Quran”.lead1a.jpg

At the same time, Ahmed’s models also reflect broad Muslim responses to one another. For example, “Ajmer followers think Deobandis are too critical of other faiths and too preoccupied with opposing mysticism, while they find Aligarh followers too concerned with the material world”. As for Aligarh, they view themselves as members of the Muslim vanguard who “perceive Ajmer as backward and dismiss Deoband as a rabble of ignorant clerics”. On their part, while Deoband followers are dismissive of the Ajmer model that they view as bordering on heresy, they are equally critical of Aligarh for being “too secular and too influenced by the West”.

The above models offer a lens for understanding why suicide bombers were targeting rallies of the People’s Party, even before Bhutto returned from exile. Going by Ahmed’s model, the October 18 and December 27 bombings of Bhutto and her supporters signified a ‘Deoband’ backlash against the twin targets of Ajmer and Aligarh: the carnivalesque PPP crowd signifying Ajmer, and Bhutto’s “campaign manifesto” reflecting Aligarh.

The graphic increase in Deobandi militancy reflected in the ongoing ‘jihad’ for enforcing Shariah in the northern areas of Pakistan is consonant with Ahmed’s observation that the Deoband model is gaining strength with the heightening of tensions between ‘Islam’ and America following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The three models, however, are not ‘watertight’ concepts — there is flexibility, overlap, and even creative transformation from one category to another. Ahmed cites Iqbal as an example of a creative synthesis of the three approaches.

As for Pakistan and the next elections, there is every possibility that the sympathy wave for Bhutto will make it possible for the Pakistan People’s Party to once again emerge as the largest party representing the federation. At the same time, a patch up between the two wings of the PPP is necessary to bring together all the Bhuttos on a single platform in the struggle that lies ahead.

Such a patch up seems all the more urgent at a moment when the ‘Trojan horse’ of extremism seems to run through the mindset of leaders and cadres of various other parties and sections of the ‘establishment’ — making one wonder if the nation’s yearning for fair and free elections will ever materialise at all.

Suroosh Irfani teaches Cultural Studies at National College of Arts, Lahore 

[Picture from:]

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