Monday, May 31, 2010

ICIF launches website on Islamic Banking and finance

Dr. Fazlur Rahman Faridi , Chairman, Indian Centre for Islamic Finance launched the website – and expressed his appreciation on the work done on the website and hope that people in India and abroad will utilize this facility. Further he added that:  it will create awareness among the students, scholars and the regulators about the need and relevance of Islamic finance, which has emerged as a possible alternative after the financial Tsunami in the west.

Dr. Faridi is one of the pioneer in the field of Islamic economics and finance in India. He had completed his Masters in Economics and Ph.D from Aligarh Muslim University. He was Professor in Economics in Aligarh Muslim University and King Abdul Azeez University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He is also the chairman of Indian association for Islamic Economics. He has also guided most of the leading and prominent personalities in the field of the Islamic economics and finance. 

Speaking at the occasion the general secretary of ICIF Mr. H Abdur Raqeeb highlighted the activities of ICIF. “ICIF is striving to present Islamic economy and financial system as an alternative to the prevailing conventional system based on free trade and controlled economic systems. It is on the one hand creating awareness among the masses how Islamic financial system is humane, based on ethics and beneficial to all segments of the society and more particularly the marginalized and unorganized sector. It is networking the individuals and institutions working in this field to collectively present before the regulators, businessmen and the political leaders to accommodate Islamic banking along with conventional banking. For that it has conducted several seminars, workshops and interactive sessions and proposes to produce literature in English and Hindi apart from Urdu to create awareness among the masses,” he said.
And also added that “If London Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong and Paris can become hub and house of Islamic Finance and Banking why not Mumbai?”
Among the trustees of ICIF are Dr. Nejajatullah Siddiqui, King Faisal International Prize winner and pioneer of Interest Free banking in the world, Dr. Ausaf Ahmad, Janab Syed Mohammed Jafar, Dr. Rahmatullah, Dr. Shariq Nisar, Janab Syed Gulam Akbar, Dr. Obeidullah, Dr. Waquar Anwar, Janab K M Abdul Salam, Janab Noorullah Siddiqui and Janab Abdul Rasheed.

From a report on the event in Jamaat-e-Islami Hind's website.
Read More here. To visit the site on Islamic Banking click here.

To read the report of the event in Financial Express click here

The dawn of a powerful Iran..!

The scientific output has grown 11 times faster in Iran than the world average, faster than any other country. A survey of the number of scientific publications listed in the Web of Science database shows that the growth in the Middle East––mostly in Iran and Turkey––is nearly four times faster than the world average. Only in February last Iran had sent mouse, turtles and worms into the space.

It is not any Iranian or Turkish agency but Science-Metrix, a data analysis company in Montreal, which has published a detailed report on “geo-political shift in knowledge creation” since 1980. Eric Archambault, the author of the report and president of Science-Metrix is of the view that “Asia is catching up even more rapidly than previously thought, Europe is holding its position more than most would expect. And the Middle East is the region to watch.”

If that study is to be believed the scientific output of North America––the United States is the most important country in this continent––has grown considerably slower than the world as a whole in the last two decades. World scientific output grew steadily from 450,000 papers in 1980 to 1,500,000 in 2009. Asia as a whole surpassed North America last year.

The development of Iran and Turkey need to be viewed in a different context too. They have acquired this distinction when they have elected Islamic governments in power and do not have the secular and western-minded tin-pot dictators thrust on the people.

The progress made by these two powers are being recognized by countries like Russia and China, albeit for their own diplomatic and military interest. The United States, Israel and West Europe want to use sanctions to push back their development.

The people of Iran have exploded the western myth woven since the Khomeini-led Islamic Revolution in 1979; that the country of Ayatollahs cannot make any progress.

Now the western scholars are floundering for words to explain as to how “the Iran of Mullahs” and burqa-clad women are on the threshold of the space and nuclear age and has not travelled back to the stone age as they predicted. This notwithstanding all sorts of sanctions in the past and US backed and Saddam Husain-led eight year old war thrust on it (1980-87).

From Soroor Ahmed's article From Mini-Skirts To Burqas: Iran, Turkey Clad As Scientific Powers in Indian Muslims. Read More

It might be the Chinese year of the tiger, but scientifically, 2010 is looking like Iran's year.
Scientific output has grown 11 times faster in Iran than the world average, faster than any other country. A survey of the number of scientific publications listed in the Web of Science database shows that growth in the Middle East – mostly in Turkey and Iran – is nearly four times faster than the world average.
Science-Metrix, a data-analysis company in Montreal, Canada, has published a detailed report (PDF) on "geopolitical shifts in knowledge creation" since 1980. "Asia is catching up even more rapidly than previously thought, Europe is holding its position more than most would expect, and the Middle East is a region to watch," says the report's author, Eric Archambault.

From New More here and here and here

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Islam is a very simple religion to adopt" says Eric Hobsbawm

We have the phenomenon of Islamist terrorism in today's world. Is the threat going to define the next 50 years?

That's what the Americans want. Now that you no longer have the real enemy, you do need an enemy, as it were, in order to be able to mobilise, against whom to mobilise. That was the theory of Huntington, wasn't it? It's going to be a cultural battle till the death of cultures.

I don't believe it. In the first place, Islam is only one part of the world. Islamic problems, the problem of Islamic immigrants or Islamic activities, only affects certain parts [of the world]. For instance, for practical purposes, it simply doesn't arise for most of the American continent.

It happens, at the moment, to be a particularly lively thing. It may become a more lively thing in Europe simply because of the mass of potential immigrants who are Muslims from the Maghreb in France and Spain, and from Turkey in Germany and other places.

There's undoubtedly a considerable suspicion, which is one of the reasons why the debate on whether Turkey should join [the European Union] is very politically explosive. A number of people are afraid of too much of an influx of Muslims.

Even so, I can't believe that this is a major lasting problem. Undoubtedly, given American policy in the Middle East [West Asia], there's only one thing that can be said about the Islamic phenomenon and that is Islam is probably one of the few religions which has continued to expand — and, to expand effectively, without the support of either missionaries or states. Islam happens to be, in some ways, a very simple religion to adopt and, in some ways, a very formidable religion because there's very little you need to do if you convert to Islam ...
The element within Islam of, as it were, the feeling that you are no longer subaltern by being a Muslim, that is an element in the situation which has, perhaps, been underestimated. 

From Eric Hobsbawm's interview "Limits to American Power" in Znet
More here

"Islam stands for compassion" asserts Dalai Lama

Compassion is equally important in Islam — and recognizing that has become crucial in the years since Sept. 11, especially in answering those who paint Islam as a militant faith. On the first anniversary of 9/11, I spoke at the National Cathedral in Washington, pleading that we not blindly follow the lead of some in the news media and let the violent acts of a few individuals define an entire religion.

Let me tell you about the Islam I know. Tibet has had an Islamic community for around 400 years, although my richest contacts with Islam have been in India, which has the world’s second-largest Muslim population. An imam in Ladakh once told me that a true Muslim should love and respect all of Allah’s creatures. And in my understanding, Islam enshrines compassion as a core spiritual principle, reflected in the very name of God, the “Compassionate and Merciful,” that appears at the beginning of virtually each chapter of the Koran.

Finding common ground among faiths can help us bridge needless divides at a time when unified action is more crucial than ever. As a species, we must embrace the oneness of humanity as we face global issues like pandemics, economic crises and ecological disaster. At that scale, our response must be as one.
Harmony among the major faiths has become an essential ingredient of peaceful coexistence in our world. From this perspective, mutual understanding among these traditions is not merely the business of religious believers — it matters for the welfare of humanity as a whole.

From Tenzin Gyatso (the 14th Dalai Lama)'s article in The New York Times. More here.
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, is the author, most recently, of “Toward a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World’s Religions Can Come Together.”

India's urban nightmare: Building inclusive cities, sustaining Economic growth

My brother-in-law was caught in an evening downpour in Bangalore not long ago. He was on a scooter, on his way home, and he found himself struggling through streets where water reached to his thighs. The city’s drains were overwhelmed. He was driving through a mix of rain and sewage.

At one particularly deep point, the water rose above his engine. His scooter sputtered. He swallowed a mouthful. About a week later, he developed jaundice. He wasn’t sure what caused it, but the doctors were certain of one thing: the sewage water he consumed couldn’t have helped.

I’ve written before about the deplorable state of Indian cities. My brother-in-law’s experience may have been egregious, but anyone who has spent time in urban India would recognize the basic elements of his story: a collapse of municipal infrastructure, chaotic roads, an environment filled with health hazards.

By virtually any measure, the quality of life in Indian cities is abysmal. Only 60 percent of municipal waste is collected. Just 30 percent of urban sewage is treated. According to a recent government study of 127 cities, 80 percent of them had at least one pollutant that exceeded air quality standards.

A few decades ago, when the vast majority of Indians lived in the countryside and when agriculture represented around a third of national income, all of this would perhaps have been cause for less concern. But today, with India rapidly urbanizing, moving to an economy where services represent more than half of gross domestic product, cities matter a lot more. They represent both the tremendous possibility of India, but also potential bottlenecks in its development.

A study released last month by McKinsey, the consulting firm, does a good job of capturing the critical role played by Indian cities. The report, titled “India’s Urban Awakening: Building Inclusive Cities, Sustaining Economic Growth,” contains an acute analysis of the opportunities and challenges presented by urban India.
As one would expect from a McKinsey study, the number-crunching is impressive — and the numbers themselves staggering. Between now and 2030, the report estimates, 250 million Indians will migrate to the cities, a figure that exceeds the current total population of all but three countries (China, India and the United States). As a result, India will have 68 cities with populations of more than one million (compared with 35 in all of Europe today).

Migration on that scale represents tremendous economic opportunity. The report’s authors calculate that, over the next 20 years, 70 percent of new jobs in India will be in urban areas and that the cities’ share of gross domestic product will rise to 70 percent from 58 percent. Fulfilling that potential, however, depends on managing the transformation well. And, given India’s abysmal record when it comes to even relatively modest rates of urbanization over the past few decades, the coming urban wave could just as well spell disaster as opportunity.

Shirish Sankhe, the report’s lead author, told me that the overarching message of the report was this: “India can basically take two paths. One path is the urban reform path, and one is the status quo path. One path leads to chaos and urban gridlock. The other can add up to 1.5 percent to G.D.P.”

In Mr. Sankhe’s view, there are two main challenges to the “reform path” — governance and financial. Perhaps surprisingly, the financial challenges appear less daunting. Although the sums of money required to modernize Indian cities are huge (around $10 billion a year, more than three times current levels of investment), the report argues that many of these funds can be generated by cities themselves through more efficient property taxes, unlocking the value of land assets and raising prices for things like water supply, mass transit and sewage treatment.

From Akash Kapoor's write up in The New York Times
To read the full write up click here

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Connecting the Dots (CTD)" is a must read for all

In 1992, a young lad of 17 leaves Chennai and comes to Mumbai with an acquaintance to explore opportunities. He gets abandoned at the Bandra station and, with no money in his pocket, takes shelter in a nearby temple, and then gets a string of small jobs in the kitchens of various eateries.

Being a Tamilian, he faces discrimination. However, he is enterprising and when he finally gets a customer-facing job — that of serving tea — he quickly begins to generate three times the business of the other tea boys because he is so good in handling customers.

He enters into a partnership to start a tea stall only to get duped by his partner after the business is successful. He is intelligent and learns from the experience. He then breaks out on his own and ends up running a successful South Indian food stall and learns the trade as he goes along.

This food stall grows into a chain of 25 Dosa Plaza outlets with a franchise in New Zealand and enquiries from other countries.

Or take the story of Kunwer Sachdev of Su-kam. Born into the family of an Indian Railways clerk who ran a string of small unsuccessful businesses on the side, Kunwer went to a Hindi-medium government school.

From there, he pulled himself up by his bootstraps and went to college, and after some years of stopping and starting created Su-kam — India’s largest inverter company. Who says India cannot do well in manufacturing? That India has to be a services-led economy? That Indian companies cannot do R&D?

Samar Gupta’s Trikaya Agriculture tells us that there is still hope for Page Three people. Born into a privileged family, educated at Mayo College in Ajmer and living on Napean Sea Road, Gupta tried to do several things unsuccessfully. Much of his time, however, was spent partying hard. When his father died and he inherited the family farm, he got serious about growing exotic vegetables and creating a market for them in Mumbai. Trikaya Agriculture today is a success story.

Or, take the case of R Sriram of Crossword. An introvert, a college dropout, who does not believe in the institution of marriage. He tried his hand at advertising, market research and then journalism. Finally, he converted his passion for reading into a business — he started India’s largest book store chain Crossword.
And there are many such inspirational stories in this book. Each one is different and engaging.

Connect the Dots (CTD) tells the stories of 20 regular people who became entrepreneurs and made a go of it.
CTD is a must read for all entrepreneurs, managers, students, and anyone interested in the new India.
I would definitely want my children to read it. It is inspirational stuff.

From Sanjeev Bikhchandani's review of the book Connect the Dots (CTD) written by Rashmi Bansal in Business Standard
To read the full review click here

Rashmi Bansal is a writer, entrepreneur and youth expert. Rashmi is co-founder and editor of JAM (Just Another Magazine), India’s leading youth magazine in print and online. She writes extensively on youth, careers and entrepreneurship and hosts the popular blog: Youth Curry.
Rashmi is Consulting Editor for ‘Cracking Careers’, the careers show on business news channel UTVi. She mentors students and young entrepreneurs in colleges across India. An economics graduate from Sophia College, Mumbai and an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, she lives in Mumbai and can be reached at “rashmi at jammag dot com”

Unravelling Hindutva Terrorism

When the bombs went off at Malegaon in September 2006, killing about 40 people and injuring many more who had gathered for the Friday afternoon prayer at a local mosque, the first arrests were of Muslim men who were supposed to belong to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The police claimed to have cracked the case. Less than a year later, in May 2007, when a similar bomb exploded in Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid killing nine people, the police claimed that these were "sophisticated" bombs detonated via a cellphone located in Bangladesh and the main culprit was supposed to be a Muslim man affiliated to the Harkat-ul-Jehad al-Islami (HuJI). The police arrested some random young Muslims from the city and tortured them into confessing their "guilt". Six months later, when another bomb went off on the eve of the last Friday of Ramazan, in the Ajmer shrine in Rajasthan, it was again blamed on "jehadi terrorists".

It has taken the courageous, if simple, act by Hemant Karkare, the anti-terrorism squad chief of Maharashtra police, of following the available leads to show the linkages between the Malegaon bomb blasts and Hindutva-linked groups. Without this one single act, all these linkages would, perhaps, have remained hidden behind the lies and half-truths dished out by our security establishment. As is well known now, a group called Abhinav Bharat organised this attack. This group includes some religious figures as well as a serving officer of the Indian Army. There have been other clear instances of Hindutva groups involved in bomb making in Nanded, Kanpur, Bhopal and Goa. Most of these are linked to the Bajrang Dal, which is a front of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). There is now a clear linkage between the RSS and its fronts and personnel and a series of bomb blasts. This is apart from the evidence, much stronger, which links this redoubtable organisation, to scores of communal killings, the Gujarat riots of 2002 being the last of its "big" examples.

If terror derived from religious fundamentalism has one headquarter in India, it is the RSS. Their younger siblings, the Islamic, Sikh or Christian fundamentalists, though dangerous in their own ways, cannot match the organisational network, financial muscle or political legitimacy that the RSS – its affiliates and personnel – possess. After all, India’s principal opposition party is a 100% subsidiary of the RSS and it is the shrill communal politics of this "family" which has created that political climate where any terrorist act could be, despite all evidence, linked to Muslims.

Nevertheless, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism among Muslim communities is a serious issue. It has dangerous consequences, not just for its regressive social and political effects on the Muslims themselves, and needs to be fought with vigour. Islamic fundamentalism has also incubated and nurtured terrorist organisations and initiated violent acts, not just in India but also all over the world. None of this can be denied nor can the guard against Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism be lowered.

However, it is now amply clear that our security agencies, government institutions and ministries, specially the home ministry, are deeply compromised by communal prejudice. In each of the cases highlighted above, and in many more, the prima facie evidence, both forensic and circumstantial, pointed to the involvement of Hindutva groups. Yet, unmindful of all evidence, they refused to follow open, clear leads pointing to Hindutva groups, but rather went around building fairy tales about Islamic terrorism’s involvement, picking up random Muslim men (and some women), torturing them till they accepted their "guilt" and finally claiming success in the case. As late as January this year, when the Hindutva terror link to Malegaon had been firmly established, and the Rajasthan police were already questioning the accused of the Ajmer blasts for their links to the Mecca Masjid bombs, the Hyderabad police was merrily arresting Muslims who, they claimed, were linked to the Mecca Masjid blast of 2007. The complicity of the Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh police in the murder of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife, or the killing of Ishrat Jehan and her friends is now clearly established. There is also prima facie evidence of communal prejudice and wrongdoing in police action in cases like the Batla House encounter in Delhi. Unfortunately, the list of cases where communal prejudice by the police and security establishment is evident is so long that it can fill volumes.

While there has been some effort to recognise and address caste and gender prejudices and discriminations, there has been a certain cussedness about not accepting and redressing the discrimination and prejudice against religious minorities, particularly the Muslims. The present United Progressive Alliance government has taken some commendable steps to address this issue, primarily through reports of the Sachar Committee and the Ranganath Misra Commission. These have opened up space to discuss the structural discrimination and prejudice against Muslims in India as well as the measures needed to redress this. It is also true that the criminal link between Hindutva groups and bomb blasts has come to the fore under this regime. Nevertheless, this is not sufficient; urgent steps are needed to disinfect our security establishment of the communal virus. Whether the present Home Minister P Chidambaram can measure up to this task, and whether the Congress Party can find the political will to take on Hindutva inside the administration and state structures, is an open question.

From the editorial of EPW the Economic and Political Weekly
To read in full click here. and here

Is America a Muslim nation?

Is America a Muslim nation? Here are seven reasons the answer may be YES. Islam is monotheistic. Muslims worship the same God as Jews and Christians. They also revere the same prophets as Judaism and Christianity, from Abraham, the first monotheist, to Moses, the law giver and messenger of God, to Jesus–not leaving out Noah, Job, or Isaiah along the way. The concept of a Judeo-Christian tradition only came to the fore in the 1940s in America. Now, as a nation, we may be transcending it, turning to a more inclusive “Abrahamic” view.

Islam is monotheistic. Muslims worship the same God as Jews and Christians. They also revere the same prophets as Judaism and Christianity, from Abraham, the first monotheist, to Moses, the law giver and messenger of God, to Jesus–not leaving out Noah, Job, or Isaiah along the way. The concept of a Judeo-Christian tradition only came to the fore in the 1940s in America. Now, as a nation, we may be transcending it, turning to a more inclusive “Abrahamic” view.

Islam is democratic in spirit. Islam advocates the right to vote and educate yourself and pursue a profession. The Qur’an, on which Islamic law is based, enjoins Muslims to govern themselves by discussion and consensus. In mosques, there is no particular priestly hierarchy. With Islam, each individual is responsible for the condition of her or his own soul. Everyone stands equal before God.

Islam is egalitarian. From New York to California, the only houses of worship that are routinely integrated today are the approximately 4,000 Muslim mosques. That is because Islam is predicated on a level playing field, especially when it comes to standing before God. The Pledge of Allegiance (one nation, “under God”) and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (all people are “created equal”) express themes that are also basic to Islam.

From Michael Wolfe's article in The Muslim Observer
To read the full article click here

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"We are a country of a billion dollars" said Manmohan Singh

To a question as to whether he was really as pro-American as the Left makes him out to be, the Prime Minister said he is “working on an agenda that serves India to the best of my ability” and that it was for the people of the country to judge him.

(In September 2008, as he sat beside George W. Bush at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington D.C., Dr Singh had said: “The people of India deeply love you”.)

A few minutes later during the press conference, one wonders if the Prime Minister’s made a proverbial Freudian slip of the tongue when he said that “we are a country of a billion dollars”, before quickly correcting himself to replace his last word with “people”.

From Paranjoy Guha Thakurta's column "What the PM didn't say" in The Asian Age
To read the full article click here

Aam Aadmi, UPA-II and Manmohan Singh

Manmohan Singh has nothing to celebrate. He has said nothing new in his much publicised press conference. It is a tragic irony that we have a qualified economist at the helm of affairs and he could do nothing to stall the rising prices.

When he was asked about the ways to contain the prices, he dodged the question and started giving lectures on global financial crisis, inflation, fiscal figures etc. I just could not understand the logic there.

This government came to power with the votes of Aam Aadmi. It is yet to THINK about the welfare of the aam aadmi. How sad!

Doctors have indeed become helpless and so I can only say "God help the poor patient."

Two weeks ago while on a holiday at a rather remote place I happened to meet a person who, on discovering that I was a doctor, said that he had been referred by his doctor after a battery of tests to a higher medical centre for establishing a diagnosis.

After listening to the account of his symptoms, I felt that the diagnosis of the problem was very evident and straight forward. Even a Para-medical worker who happened to be there with us immediately came to the correct conclusion of what the problem might be. But since I did not want to interfere with a case that was being treated by another doctor, I asked the patient to go ahead and get himself investigated fully.

But while pondering over this matter later, I could not help wondering how much family medicine has changed over the brief span of time bet-ween my childhood and adulthood. I also could not help remembering our own family medicine-man who saw us all through our not so infrequent health problems. He was Mysore Venkatsubbaiah Subba Rao whose name was conveniently abridged to 'Subrao Dakatru' by almost all his patients. He actually came to me as a family legacy from our remote village of Aldur perched rather precariously on one of the crests of the many hills of Western Ghats in Chikmagalur.

His visits were something we all used to look forward to as he used to tell us fascinating accounts of how life was during the ‘good old days’ of his youth. After I became a medical student, he would love to exchange notes with me about what was being taught in medical colleges now vis-à-vis what had been taught in his time as a medical student and he would surprise me with the amount of clinical knowledge he possessed despite being only an LMP or Licenciate Practitioner.

His medicines were only a few but his practical knowledge was immense and that was his strongest weapon. He was so meticulous that even in the tiny private clinic that he had set up in his house at Saraswathipuram after retirement he would maintain detailed notes about the symptoms of all his patients and the medicines he had prescribed at their last visit. Investigations were never the forte of medical practice then and all his patients used to seek his services in good faith and absolute trust and would accept his judgment with its limitations.

With old age taking its toll, he faded away from the scene quietly unsung but not without goodwill and gratitude. I still miss him. Now a doctor is not only likely to be considered outdated if he does not show his knowledge of the latest diagnostic tests available but he will also be hauled up before a consumer court for not using them. Establishing a precise diagnosis instead of giving immediate relief from pain with common sense has become the need of the hour. This has ushered in the era of ‘referral medical practice' by virtue of which a patient is shunted from one specialist to another till they all collectively decide that there is nothing seriously wrong! Doctors have indeed become helpless and so I can only say "God help the poor patient."

From Dr Javeed Nayeem's article "Over a Cup of Eevening Tea: The changing face of your Family Doctor" in Star of Mysore.
To read the full article click here.

Who will give back the thirteen years - 4745 days and nights spent in jail? Is this justice?

Kunangudi Haniffa, one of the founders of Tamilnadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam and the first treasurer of Pattali Makkal Katchi, and 7 others who were languishing in prison for 13 years were acquitted of all the terror and conspiracy charges by the Poonamalle special bomb blast cases court.
Kunangudi Haniffa, Eruvadi Kasim, Abdul Raheem, Mohammad Gani, Mohammad Alikhan, Shamshad Ahamed, Riyadur Rahman, Mohammad Thasthagir and Ashraf Ali were arrested after a series of blasts rocked three trains, killing 10 persons and injuring 70 others way back on December 6, 1997.

After most of the prosecution witnesses turned hostile and the eyewitness account was also considered too feeble to strengthen the prosecution theory, the special judge, Premkumar, had little option but to acquit all the persons.

Three trains, all originating from Chennai, were rocked by blasts on December 6, 1997, on the Babri Masjid demolition anniversary. While a blast occurred on Pandiyan Express at Tiruchi station, the Coimbatore-bound Cheran Express witnessed similar attack at Erode railway station. The Alleppey Express blast occurred just when the train was entering Kerala. All the blasts happened between 5.30am and 6am that day. The police had arraigned a total of 10 accused in the case. Of them, Ashraf Ali is absconding while Mohammad Thasthagir died in 2000 during trial.

The others had been lodged at the Puzhal central prison. Over 156 witnesses were questioned. The accused had been charged for offences under various sections of the IPC, the Explosives Substances Act, the Railways Act etc.

Special Judge Premkumar acquitted the eight men saying that charges against them were not proved beyond reasonable doubt. Six of the eight men were released on Friday (May 21, 2010) while Ervadi Kasim and Ali Abdullah are in prison for their involvement in some other cases.

The acquittal of all the eight persons has raised substantial legal questions. This is a model case of how innocent Muslims including those who have been active political activists are harassed in the name of fighting terror.

Haniffa’s case
Mr. Kunangudi Haniffa was arrested in this case on 15-02-1998 while he was attending the wedding of his daughter in his native village Anumnadagudi (Sivagangai District) in connection with case No. 1229/97 (on the file of the Railway Police, Trichy) and remanded to judicial custody. After prolonged investigation, chargesheet was laid in the year 2001 and the trial commenced in the Special Court for exclusive trial of Bomb Blast cases at Poonamallee. (S.C.No.2 of 2001).

Mr. Kunangudi Haniffa was implicated in this case with a bald allegation of conspiracy and he was in confinement for the last 13 years. He was accused of hatching the conspiracy to blast the trains on the 5th anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition. To prove the charge of conspiracy, the prosecution relied only on two witnesses namely Doss (PW25) and Mohamed Ali (PW29). During the trial both the witnesses turned hostile. Except these two witnesses there were no other witnesses in the chargesheet to prove the charge of conspiracy against Mr. Haniffa.

With the evidence of PW25 and PW29, the case against the petitioner by the prosecution had fallen flat. The imaginary allegation of conspiracy against the petitioner has been totally demolished and the prosecution miserably failed to prove the charge of conspiracy against the petitioner.

Bail not granted even after 7 yrs in jail
In spite of numerous bail petitions in the Trial Court and in the Hon’ble High Court of Judicature at Madras, Mr. Kunangudi Haniffa and all the eight persons arrested along with him were not granted bail. When Mr. Kunangudi Haniffa filed a bail petition in the High Court during October 2009, Mr.Justice Nagamuthu dismissed the petition after the Public Prosecutor promised that the case before the trial court will end within a month.
The denial of bail to Mr. Haniffa and the co accused was clearly against Supreme Court’s judgment in Shaheen Welfare Association Vs Union of India AIR (1996) SC 2957 in which the Hon’ble Apex Court has held that denial of bail after seven years of incarceration would be violative of Article 21 of the Constitution. Besides this judgment, the Apex Court has in a series of judgments ruled against long incarceration, without bail.
In the Sankararaman Murder case for releasing Thiru Jayendra Saraswathi on bail the Hon’ble Supreme Court had fully gone through the materials produced even at the stage of investigation and released Jayendra Saraswathi on bail. However the courts failed to follow this yardstick in the case of Mr. Kunangudi Haniffa, a well known political activist who had to languish in the prison for more than 13 years to breathe freedom though prima facie a strong case has been made out for the grant of bail. Mr Haniffa’s incarceration for 13 long years is clearly violative of Art.21 of the Constitution of India as held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in 2001 (1) Crimes Vol.VII S.C. Page 46 Satya Brat Gain Vs State of Bihar.

Mr. Haniffa’s entire life is ruined and the welfare of the family members was also destroyed. Mr. Haniffa is diabetic and blood pressure patient undergoing treatment.

Date after date for pronouncement of judgement
The long drawn trial of this case in the Poonamallee Special Court is also a specific example of how lethargic the justice delivery system works in the case involving innocent Muslims. Even after the examination of witnesses and all arguments have been completed both by the prosecution and by the defence it took almost six months for the delivery of the Judgement.

Mr. Kunangudi Haniffa’s incarceration and his acquittal in the case are typical example of how in the case of Muslims justice is delayed which tantamount to justice denied. Who can give back to Mr. Haniffa and 7 others the precious 13 years they lost?

From Prof. M. H. Jawahirullah's article in Two circles.
To read the full article click here.

Read  ‘I lost 14 yrs to a lie... I got the verdict, now I hope I get some justice’

Monday, May 24, 2010

Banning the burqa is a bad idea

European governments are entitled to limit women’s rights to wear the burqa. In schools, for instance, pupils should be able to see teachers’ faces, as should judges and juries in court. But Europeans should accept that, however much they dislike the burqa, banning it altogether would be an infringement on the individual rights which their culture normally struggles to protect.

The French, of all people, should know that. As Voltaire might have said, “I disapprove of your dress, but I will defend to the death your right to wear it.”

From an article in The Economist. More here

Manmohan Singh's press meet and Masoom Moradabadi's query

Was a deliberate gag manufactured to silence Masoom Moradabai of Urdu newspaper Akhbar e Jadid, when he asked the most crucial question engaging the 200 million Indian Muslims as to how Prime Minister will act on the recommendations of Sachar Commission and Justice Ranganathan Misra Commission reports.

The Urdu journalist was the fifth journalist in the line to be given the chance to address the questions to the Prime Minister. However when he posed the sensitive question about Muslim plight, all of a sudden the DD telecast went dead. Can one imagine a national TV Channel to be so inefficient and callous about breakdown in its telecast of Prime Minister’s Press Conference, without some sanction from the authorities? Was the breakdown of the telecast was designed specially to shield the Prime Minister from replying to embarrassing questions about the abject failure of his government?

One can see the last flashes of Prime Minister's instant distress while the Muslim journalist reeled out the question on behalf of his Urdu newspaper, when the telecast went off the air.

From Ghulam Muhammed's article. More here.

"Pulich", "Paleer, paleer", "Labak", "Veduk" - Translating Tamil into English is hilarious

What’s truly fascinating about this volume, though, is Pritham K. Chakravarthy’s translation. 

Auto-orientalising writers like Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni could learn a thing or two about how Indianness, or regional character, can be portrayed by means other than coyly dropping the occasional article. 

In these tales, English is reinvigorated by Tamil figures of speech, like a couple in love being “as close as copulating serpents”, or personifications, such as blue Pallavan buses spitting their passengers out on to the sidewalk, motorbikes that are “kicked alive”, and telephones that scream loudly. Onomatopoeia, too, effectively gives a sense of place, as any comics fan will attest to: “Pulich!” is the sound of spit landing on the wall. “Paleer, paleer!” is the sound of lashing rain. “Labak!” is the sound of a purse being snatched. And “Veduk!” is the sound of this book vanishing from my desk.

From Shruti Ravindran's article in Indian Express
To read the full article click here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"I love horses too", replied Nehru with his British sense of humour

During the first general election of 1952, a candidate of the Rama Rajya Parishad who was standing against Pandit Nehru asked him asked him why he did not support a ban on cow slaughter. “Don’t you love cows?” he asked. Nehru replied with his British sense of humour, “I love horses too.” That was his way of putting the distance between loving an animal and deifying it.

Rama Rajya is again in the news with the BJP claiming that this is the one ideal of good governance that all Indians have always cherished. So it will be Rama Rajya, Rama Setu and Rama Mandir for the BJP? It shows how out of touch with India the party has become.

The Dalits cannot have much love for Rama Rajya after what happened to Sambuka in the Ramayana. Even the OBCs may object to the upper caste bias of the epic and modern women may not want a husband who treats them so badly as the hero of Ramayana treated his wife.

Also has the BJP learned nothing from the Rama Setu debate with DMK chief M Karunanidhi? The Ramayana is a different text in North India from what it is in the South. The anti-Brahman movement in the South was virulently against the North Indian version of Hinduism. The BJP has a long way to go before it realises that Hindu society lives on division and sub-division. It has survived for centuries without a single political authority precisely because of its ability to prevent any single group to get so large as to dominate. Hinduism is not a unifying creed.

The Third Front is an acceptance of this cellular character of Indian society. Class is not reliable as a unifying factor as the Left should know by now. So a double negative factor —anti-BJPism plus anti-Congressism—is the unifying platform. Yet this has to compete against each separate negative. Anti-BJPism is called secularism and can combine many fragments as it did under the UPA. Anti-Congressism is not as strong as it used to be in the Seventies. So the NDA is fragile.

The Congress has sensed this asymmetry. So it is going it alone and contesting as many seats as it can. It is trying to become truly national again. So, rather than accept three or four seats from Lalu Prasad whose star is sinking in any case, it will contest almost 30 seats out of 40 in Bihar and similarly in UP as well. Even randomly it may do better than what its ‘allies’ will grant.

So all the bets are off in India’s favourite sport. The Congress is casting aside old allies like the RJD and Ram Vilas Paswan who have been marginalised in Bihar by Nitish Kumar. It will abandon DMK at the first chance since AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa will do better. The NCP is on probation because it may lose to the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra with whom it has been flirting lately.

The UPA is dead; a new UPA will arise from its ashes. This is the Rahul Gandhi gamble.   

From Meghnad Desai's article in Indian Express
To read the full article click here   

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Meet Niaz Ahmed, the hero of Ervadi

A call of death was received and immediately an ambulance was arranged free of cost. The receiver of the call inquires, “Do you need freezer coffin?” There was another call. This was from a woman from labour spasmodic pangs. An auto-rickshaw was immediately arranged.

Who cares for these medical calls? Niaz Ahmed.

Niaz Ahmed and his elder sister are afflicted with myopathy a condition wherein the muscles of the body will slowly be atrophied. His lower limbs and part of his right hand have become no beneficial use or incapable of functioning usefully. But he is the town’s man.

Niaz Ahmed has an indomitable will power with inexorable fate which has not deterred him. He is very vigorous, hard working. Besides he is always surrounded by a very vibrant group which helps him to cope up with his failing health system. Above all he is a charming and vivacious host of good qualities.

"I am losing my hands and gaining twelve because 6 friends are around me to help. They lift me to places wherever I want and they feed me morsel by morsel” says Niaz. He has government certificate which certifies that he is 90% physically defective. His efforts to fetch government aid remain futile. Yet, he has not lost his faith in Allah and he is self employed. He has invested more than 1.5 lakhs in an embossing machine which prints rexene leather and has started his own rexene business.

Above all he is the town’s man dealing with the problems of the town.

From Ko Shafee Ahmed's write up in Two circles
To read the full article click here.

Five Ways to Ensure Mediocrity in Your Organisation

Many chief executives use the tough competitive environment as a handy excuse to put off salary increases, tighten the screws on performance, and generally drop any pretense of creating a human-centered workplace. But the tough-economy picture has two sides. Only those companies that make the effort to keep their employees productive by treating them decently can expect to see continued productivity gains. Much of the workforce has tuned out, waiting for a more welcoming job market to make career moves.

Here are five of the most insulting leadership practices, the ones that virtually guarantee a business will end up with the most self-esteem challenged, optionless team members when the dust settles.

1. If you desire a mediocre workforce, make sure your employees know you don't trust them.
When employees know they're not trusted, they become experts at "presenteeism"—the physical appearance of working, without anything getting done. Congratulations! Your inability to trust the very people you've selected to join your team has cost you their energy, goodwill, and great ideas.

2. If you want to drive talented people away, don't tell them when they shine.
Fear of a high-self-esteem employee is prevalent among average-grade corporate leadership teams. Look how hard it is for so many managers to say, "Hey Bob, you did a great job today." Leaders who can't say, "Thanks—good going!" can plan on bidding farewell to their most able team members in short order.

3. If you prefer a team of C-list players, keep employees in the dark.
Sharp knowledge workers want to know what's going on in their organizations, beyond their departmental silos. They want some visibility into the company's plans and their own career mobility.

From LIZ RYAN's article in Businessweek
To read the full article click here

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The root of right-wing terror lies in Malegaon’s Bada Qabristan

The recent arrests in Ajmer blasts of October 11, 2007 flies in the face of then Home Minister Shivraj Patil who had publicly blamed Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HUJI) of Bangladesh without taking any laundry break! The standard statement of Home Minister is not issued in individual capacity but a reflection of official stand of the government. So who fed the words in the mouth of Home Minister? It is clear now that he was misled by a section of intelligentsia. This episode speaks volumes about the power of intelligence agencies: it has the potential to mislead any government.
The notorious right-wing trend of targeting Muslims began with Malegaon September 8, 2006 blasts. It was a pioneer project whose first experiment was performed in Malegaon’s Bada Qabristan. Emboldened by false arrests and biased investigation, these elements swore to repeat ‘Malegaon syndrome’. The syndrome first travelled South in the form of Mecca Masjid blast on May 18, 2007. Here again, they met with success. The syndrome raised its ugly head in North in the form of Ajmer blast on October 11, 2007. It returned to Malegaon once again on September 29, 2008 to complete a full circle. It was grit, determination and honesty of Hemant Karkare that exposed the face of right-wing terror. Malegaon 2006 blast occurred on Friday on the day of Shabe-Barat. Mecca Masjid blast took place on Friday again. Ajmer blast was triggered on Thursday; the day people throng Ajmer Sharif dargah. Malegaon 2008 blast went off in the holy month of Ramadan at Bhikku chowk where Muslims gather in large numbers after tarawih prayers. All this falls under one pattern.  Therefore, it will not be incorrect to assume that Hyderabad and Ajmer blasts were exact replica of Malegaon.
Like Malegaon, dozens of innocent Muslims were rounded up and beaten in Hyderabad in order to weave a fictional narrative of terror. Senior journalist Seema Mustafa who interviewed all the accused has remarked that “In Hyderabad not a single policeman has been made to pay for the illegal detention and terrible torture of young Muslims detained for days and weeks for alleged involvement in terror attacks. All were finally released as no evidence substantiating the charges was found, but not before their lives were ruined with many of them still unable to pick up the pieces.”
All these years security agencies have been sniffing out the same old and ‘standard pattern’. The theorists of the old and standard pattern suggest that whatever happens in India (Prime Minister’s sneeze included!) is the ultimate outcome of the designs made on the other side of the border. And designs are implemented by the educated Muslim youths of the country. Isn’t it a unique case of remote-control governance? What more, deadly designs direct these youths to kill their co-religionists in mosques and dargahs!
Surprisingly, Malegaon 2006 blasts have not figured anywhere in the ongoing Ajmer and Hyderabad investigation. The root of right-wing terror lies in Malegaon’s Bada Qabristan. There is an urgent need to connect the dots and form a triangle of Malegaon, Hyderabad and Ajmer. Perhaps, the mystery will unfold in MCOCA court later this month when Malegaon case stands up for argument. 

Surely in Allah's remembrance do hearts find rest

Every culture has metaphors alluding to the heart — cold hearted, warm hearted — and we use phrases like “breaking” or “touching” the heart. In Islamic traditions the physical heart is residence to the ruh, the spirit. Muslims are obliged under their laws to look after one’s spiritual and physical being.

Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) spoke of the heart as a repository of knowledge and a vessel sensitive to the needs of the body. He explained that it perceives wrongful action and is agitated by it. One of the Messenger’s most cited statements is: “Actions are based upon intentions”. All intentions emanate from the heart, which means that every action is rooted in the heart.

The heartbeat is not initiated by the central nervous system but by itself, by God. Modern science informs that the heart beats before the brain is fully formed, and that it could continue to beat despite its connections to the brain being severed. The difference between one who remembers God and one who does not is like the difference between the living and the dead. Spiritually dead hearts are the cause of all injustice and oppression in the world. When people are completely immersed in the material world they forget or refuse to believe that they will be accountable for their actions — this brings about diseased hearts that are in turmoil.

Nothing in the biological, physiological or spiritual world is static; everything either blossoms or decays. Similarly, the heart by its very nature is constantly turning, either moving towards purity or impurity; either towards God or away from Him. Interestingly, the Arabic word for heart is qalb, meaning something that turns and inqilaab is from the same root, meaning to turn something upside down. Two of the 99 names of Allah are Al Qabid and Al Basit, “The Constrictor” and “The Expander”, for it is Allah who makes our hearts expand and contract, both physically and spiritually.

God has programmed the heart as an organ designed to be in a state of calm, something that is achieved by remembrance of God. The Quran says, “Surely in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest” (13:28). The heart naturally gravitates towards God and the best nutrient for a healthy heart is polishing it with remembrance of the Creator.

Islamic scholars say the foremost requirement for remembrance of God is making amends for wrongful action with nidamah, remorse. This is not the same as guilt, for in Islam there is no original sin, which is the concept of sin being natural to human nature. Islam believes that a child is born in a state of fitrah, natural goodness, which if not cultivated leads man to falls into states of ghaflah, forgetfulness. State of heedlessness can lead to temporary slips into wrong action, from where one can move into the state of remorse and seeking forgiveness (taubah), and ascend towards high ranks with God.

From Sadia Dehlvi's gem of an article in The Asian Age.
To read the full article click here.

— Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism:The Heart of Islam.
She can be contacted at

Monday, May 17, 2010

And the hero of the year is Afroz Alam Sahil

Every generation needs heroes. We, however, seem to have preferred money. There is just too much of it to be made in the 21st century, never mind ‘the-worst-economic-crisis-since-the-Great-Depression’ phase that came and went.
To disengage and chase six-figure salaries instead is the defining logic of our times. So when a young person does something completely illogical, like chase the truth, it grabs our attention.
Only 22, and already with over 3,ooo Right to Information (RTI) applications to his name, Afroz Alam Sahil is dynamite when it comes to blowing the lid off things. An aspiring documentary film maker, Sahil is a final year student at Jamia Milia Islamia’s Mass Communication Research Centre (MCRC). He moved to New Delhi in 2005 (incidentally, the year the RTI Act was passed) from Bettiah, a city in West Champaran district of Bihar, to do his bachelors in mass media.
His latest volley comes from an ongoing 18-month-long-already struggle to retrieve facts on the controversial Batla House encounter.

A copy of the post-mortem report of Atif Ameen and Mohammad Sajid, both killed in an operation conducted by the Delhi Police on 19 September 2008, was finally given to him by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), in response to his RTI application. It is the most damning evidence yet against Delhi Police’s claim that the encounter wasn’t fake.

In less than a week of the Batla House encounter, Afroz had filed four RTIs addressed to the Delhi Police, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the NHRC, and the Supreme Court. Some of the details he sought were: number of people killed in the encounter, a copy of the FIR lodged (if at all) by the Delhi Police, copy of the post-mortem report of the two boys killed in the encounter, details on the Delhi blasts investigation, statistics on encounter killings and on terror-related cases pending in courts.

Sahil would go on to face a one-and-a-half-year long dogged resistance by the criminal justice system to deny him information. His experience with each agency could serve as a case study on how the RTI law can be subverted.

Even the Supreme Court (SC) was no exception. “The SC’s response to my RTI on terrorism-related cases was a referral to their website. It is not possible for anyone to get information on the website unless the case number is available.” Afroz, of course, persisted. When he met an SC administrative official to follow up on the RTI, his first question to Afroz was, “Tum student ho ya berozgaar (Are you a student or unemployed)?”
“When I replied that I was a student at Jamia, he said, ‘Achcha Jamia. Tabhi toh aap aise sawaal karte ho. Tum logon ki mentality aisi hi hoti hai’ (Oh Jamia. That’s why you are asking such questions. This is all that you people can think of).”
The humiliation continued.
.... .... ....
To expose the truth with the solid aid of facts is to pose an existential threat to the powers that be. Sahil is fighting an incredibly brave and dangerous game. He is not unaware of the extents to which power will stoop to silence people like him. So far, he says, he hasn’t experienced such threats. “I have faith in the law. I am not doing anything wrong,” he says.

From Pallavi Polanki's article in Open
To read the full article click here and here(Afroz's Blog)

I will continue my fight to bring about positive changes in the life of the common man.

"Ever since I have got the reply, I am getting congratulatory calls from various students of the college. The teachers have also appreciated the move and encouraging more and more students to come forward and fight for their rights rather than crying discrimination."

"I just wanted to set an example for all the students of our college and people from our community. I want that Muslims should participate and take leading role in every field. I hope my initiative will bring some hope for them," said Alam.

An RTI activist, with more than 1000 RTIs to his credit that occupies most of the space in his choc-a-bloc room, Alam has also taught the nuances and importance of RTI to the people in his native town of Bettiah in Bihar.

Buoyed by his success in the highly controversial Batla House encounter case, Alam has resolved to take his battle to a bigger field. "I will continue my fight to bring about positive changes in the life of the common man."

From Amit Singh and Shashank Shekhar's report in Mid Day
To read the full report click here

Who is Pramod Mutalik?

 Pramod Mutalik may have become a Muslim household name with his provocative statement, “Malegaon is a Jhalak. More is possible if every woman picks up bombs”, but he was in the news much before Sadhvi Pragya. In the second half of 2008, the same Mutalik, a vendor of anarchy, had said in a press conference held in Bangalore press club that Hindu suicide squads are ready “to take on Islamic terrorists.”

This news item remained on the fringe and nobody bothered to pick it up since Mutalik posed a threat only to the Indian Muslims. He became a despicable object only when his men attacked ‘Hindu’ women in a pub in Mangalore.

Sadhvi Rithambara, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Pramod Mutalik once belonged to BJP whose unofficial doctrine is based on the hate culture. It is altogether a different matter that when the hate crosses the permissible limit, BJP tries to distance itself from its ardent supporters.

From Mubasshir Mushtaq's article in Inquilab
To read the full article, click here.

What does it take to stoke a riot in Bangalore? Not a lot, for if you are willing to spend then Pramod Muthalik’s Sri Ram Sene will do the job.

This was the essence of the six-weeks long joint investigation by the news channel, Headlines Today, and Tehelka magazine, which was aired on Thursday.

Muthalik — whose claim to notoriety is the Mangalore pub attack of 2009 — has been caught on a hidden camera saying that a communal riot can be ‘organised’ in Bangalore or Mangalore. “Mangalore main kar sakte hain...Bangalore.” 

The sting’s script was simple: A reporter posed as an artist hungry for fame and wanted a communal riot sparked off by his exhibition so that he could be ‘famous like M F Hussain’; Muthalik said it could be organised and directed the artist to meet his deputies.

What followed was a series of meetings, primarily, with Prasad Attavur, national vicepresident, Sri Ram Sene and Vasantkumar Bhavani, Bangalore head of the Sene.Three out of four conversations with Attavur were held inside a jail. Muthalik is also shown accepting a donation of Rs 10,000 from a painter for “the cause of Hindutva”.
From Express News Service's report in Expressbuzz
To read the full report click here

"I have been reading Quran for months now," said Mehmood

As a reporter I was once asked to do a piece on what people were reading. This must have been 1995. I telephoned Mehmood who was surprised to be asked this. "I've been reading the Quran for months now," he said. What else, I asked. "Nothing else, everything is in it," he said, and hung up.

From Aakar Patel's article.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

'Sri Ram Sene-like elements are there within the Congress and the CPM too', says Ramachandra Guha

Tehelka's extraordinary exposé of the Sri Ram Sene demonstrates how 'popular and religious sentiment' is cynically manufactured -- for a price. It should lead to serious introspection among all our political parties, who -- as the cases of Salman Rushdie, MF Husain, Taslima Nasreen and James Laine all show -- have so often stifled or suppressed artistic freedom in the name of protecting this alleged sentiment. 

The Tehelka exposé should provoke not self-satisfaction but shame, for there are Sri Ram Sene-like elements within the Congress, the CPM, and the BJP as well. 

Ramachandra Guha's reaction to the Tehelka expose on Shri Rama Sene

I would like to congratulate Tehelka for a brilliant exposé on the ugly face of fundamentalism in India. People like Pramod Muthalik and organisations like the Sri Ram Sene are a threat to India and strict legal action should be taken against them based on what they have said in the tapes. 

Everyone has a right to follow one's religion, but no one has the right to instigate the public and create communal tension in the name of religion. This is precisely what the Sene and the other parties like the RSS are doing. 

Also, the onus should not be on the Sri Ram Sene as much as it should be on the BJP and the VHP. Muthalik is just an off-shoot of the fundamentalist agenda of the VHP and the RSS, which receive patronage from the BJP. 

The exposé has brought into public conscience what these parties can do to spread communal tension in the country.

Sanjay Nirupam's reaction to the Tehelka expose on Pramod Mutalik and Shri Rama Sene
To read the reaction of H D Deve Gowda, Digvijay Singh and others click here.

"To clear your mind of anti-Muslim prejudices, read Karen Armstrong's book on Prophet Muhammad" says Khushwant Singh

Prejudice is like poison. Unless purged out of one’s mind in early stages, it can spread like cancer and make one incapable of differentiating between right and wrong. Of the many kinds of prejudice, the worst is to believe that one’s own religion is superior to all others, which may be tolerated but never taken seriously or accepted as equally valid as one’s own. 

The most misunderstood of the major religions today is Islam, which, after Christianity, is the second most widely practised religion in the world. It also gains more converts than any of the other religions. Prejudice against Islam was spread in Christendom from the time Muslims gained dominance in the Middle East, North Africa and Spain. 

Christian crusaders failed in their missions to crush Islam in its homeland but continued to vilify its founder, Mohammed. The emergence of militant Islamic groups like al-Qaida and taliban gave them reasons to do so. The attack on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington on September 11, 2001 provided fresh ammunition to vilifiers of Islam. 

Since then Islamophobia has been deliberately spread throughout the non-Muslim world.

The two principle contentions of the anti-Islamists are that Islam was spread by the sword and that its founder-prophet was not the paragon of virtue that Muslims make him out to be. It can be proved by historical evidence that Islam was not forced upon the people; it was readily accepted by millions because it offered them new values, principally equality of mankind and rights to women that were unheard of in those times. In countries like Indonesia and Malayasia, Islam was not forced on the population by Muslim invaders but by Muslim missionaries.

Muslims are extremely sensitive to criticism of their Prophet. A popular adage in Persian is: ba khuda diwaana basho, ba Mohammed hoshiar! — “say what you like about God, but beware of what you say about Mohammed.” They regard him as the most perfect man who ever trod upon the earth, a successor of Adam, Moses, Noah, Abraham and Christ. He was the last of the prophets. 

If you honestly want to know how Muslims see him, you ought to take a good look at his life and teachings, which he claimed had been revealed to him by God. It would be as wrong to judge him by the doings of al-Qaida and taliban or by the fatwas periodically pronounced by Ayatollahs and half-baked mullahs. You do not judge Hinduism of the Vedas and Upanishads by the doings of Hindus who, in the name of Hindutva, destroy mosques, murder missionaries and nuns, vandalize libraries and works of art. You do not judge the teachings of the Sikh gurus by the utterances of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and by the murder of innocents by his hooligans. Likewise, judge Mohammed by what he taught and stood for and not by what his so-called followers do in his name.

To make a beginning in clearing your mind of anti-Muslim prejudices, I suggest you read Karen Armstrong’s Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time. Armstrong is the leading writer on comparative religions today. She is not Muslim.

From Khushwant Singh's article in The Telegraph.
To read the full article click here

Honey, vinegar, olive oil and Prophet Muhammad(PBUH)

The Prophet’s favorite condiments were honey, olive oil, salt, and vinegar.

The Qur’an (2:168) says, "Yea people: eat of what is on earth, lawful and wholesome." According to Muslim, Allah’s Messenger said, "The stomach is the central basin of the body, and the veins are connected to it. When the stomach is healthy, it passes on its condition to the veins, and in turn the veins will circulate the same; and when the stomach is putrescence, the veins will absorb such putrescence and issue the same."

We can assume from this Hadith that the Prophet ate what suited his stomach. And what better time to eat the best and the most suitable foods than during Ramadan? For the Prophet has said, "Fast (the month of Ramadan) so to heal your bodies from diseases."

Using the Hadith as a guide, I have explored, in a five-part series, how some of the Prophet’s favorite foods are beneficial to our health. Part one deals with condiments; Part two, with fruits; Part three, with vegetables; Part four, with meat and milk products; and Part five, with grains.


In Bukhari (Volume 7: Book 65), Aisha narrates that, "Allah's Apostle used to love sweet edible things and honey." He also attributed many healing powers to honey. The Holy Qur’an (16:69) says, "From its [the bee’s] belly, comes forth a drink of varying colors wherein is a cure for people. Surely there is a sign for those who would give thought."

Honey is not just a sugar, but also a complex combination of enzymes, organic acids, esters, antibiotic agents, trace minerals, and yet unidentified components! One pound of honey contains 1.4 grams of protein, 23 milligrams of calcium, 73 milligrams of phosphorus, 4.1 milligrams of iron, 1 milligram of niacin and 16 milligrams of vitamin C. Honey has been attributed externally with healing wounds and burns, and making the skin supple and smooth. Internally, honey is a cure-all, with specific benefits for the digestive system and as a tonic for general health and well-being.

Olive Oil

The Prophet also advised us to, "Use olive oil as a food and ointment for it comes from a blessed tree" (Tirmidi). In Crete, a recent study showed that even though 90% of Cretans consume an average of 60-70 pounds of oil a year per person, the incidence of coronary disease is very low compared to other countries.

Everyone knows that animal fats contain saturated fatty acids that vertically increase blood cholesterol levels. But mono-unsaturated fatty acids, like olive oil, control LDL levels while raising HDL levels. In fact, no other naturally produced oil has as large an amount of monounsaturated fatty acids (mainly oleic acid) as olive oil.

Olive oil also contains vitamins E and K, and polyphenols, which provide a defense mechanism that delays aging and prevents carcinogenesis, atherosclerosis, liver disorders, and inflammations. Oleates in the oil also promote bone formation in children and protect the bones of the elderly. Even The Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that olive oil offers strong protection in the fight against breast cancer.

From Karima Burns' article in Islam Online
To read the full article click here and here (Muqeet's blog on Seerah)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...