Sunday, October 28, 2012
MOB Habib in The Hindu Here and HereThere are many books on the Islamic religion and many more on the institution of marriage. Sheikh Muhammed Karakunnu wrote a book in Malayalam where he combined the two. It is this book on matrimony which K.M. Muhammed has translated into Tamil. It is more or less a textbook with instructions on the various aspects of marriage based on the tenets of Islam and Hadees (sayings of the Prophet).Quoting heavily from the Holy Book, the author exhorts youth to get married. He deals with the pitfalls of bachelorhood in the second chapter where he cautions those who are not married, to observe fasts to resist evil thoughts and temptation. Marriage is aimed to regulate human life, he believes.From choosing the bride to the rituals, the writer says that if a man intends to marry a woman after having conducted enquiries, he may take a look at her preferably without her knowledge. This is because in the event of his not liking her, her feelings should not be hurt. He cannot meet her alone. Most of the Islamic scholars opine that he can look only at her face and forearm.It is the girl who has to decide on her alliance, and her consent for marriage is imperative. If however the marriage takes place without her consent, she has the right to cancel it.Solemnising a Muslim marriage is simple. Of the two parties, one expresses consent and satisfaction for the alliance known as ‘Ejab’ while the other party conveys acceptance or ‘Khabool’. In the presence of two witnesses, the bride’s father or guardian gives away the girl. Once the groom conveys his acceptance, the marriage agreement stands completed. Supplication for the well-being of the newly weds follows and then the feast.
Explaining the concept of Meher, the author says it is gift to the bride from the groom and a portion of it should be paid at the time of the Nikkah (marriage). Islam prohibits wasteful expenditure during weddings.
The content is packaged in good prose and coherent language that is practical and contemporary. There is a sense of purpose and passion throughout, and the book is a comprehensive and exhaustive study.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
What kind of Muslim are you? The question seems odd, but for those who seek to divide and conquer Islam, the answer has become increasingly important. Even more disturbing are the labels we assign ourselves.
In our families few of us can say we’ve never disagreed with our siblings. But when a family member makes a mistake—even a big one—or has a view we don’t agree with, even fewer of us decide to divorce that family and change our name. Today, the same is not true of our Muslim family. Today, we’re no longer just ‘Muslim.’ We’re ‘progressives,’ ‘Islamists,’ ‘traditionalists,’ ‘salafis,’ ‘indigenous,’ and ‘immigrant.’ And each group has become so alienated from the other, that we’ve almost forgotten that we share a common creed.
While real differences do exist within our ummah, something very serious has gone wrong. Within the fold of Islam, differences are not only tolerated—they’re encouraged as a mercy from God. But as soon as we label and marginalize any who disagree with us, our downfall begins. Once we accept and internalize these labels as our main source of identity, the result is disastrous. As a result, we create our own camps, attend only our own gatherings and conferences; soon enough, we’re talking only to those who agree with us. Dialogue within the ummah disappears, our differences become only more polarized and our views become more extreme. Before long, we stop caring about what happens to the ‘other’ group of Muslims around the world, as we amputate limbs from the unified body our prophet taught us we were. The ‘other’ (who happen to still be our brothers) become so foreign—even despised—that we no longer wish to be referred by the same family name, and even join our enemies against them.
Suddenly those differences, that were once a mercy, become a curse–and a weapon to defeat Islam. Our enemies “summon one another to attack [us] as people, while eating, invite others to share their food.” (Abu Dawud)
On March 18, 2004 RAND, the influential U.S. think tank, released a report to help ‘civilize’ Islam by effacing it and remaking it in the image of Western secularism. In the report, Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources, Strategies, Cheryl Benard writes, “Modernism, not traditionalism, is what worked for the West. This included the necessity to depart from, modify, and selectively ignore elements of the original religious doctrine.”
In order to “depart from, modify, and selectively ignore” elements of Islam, Benard suggests a simple strategy: label, divide, control. After labeling each group of Muslims, she suggests pitting one group against each other. Among other strategies, Benard suggests “encourag[ing] disagreements between traditionalists and fundamentalists,” and “discourag[ing] alliances between traditionalists and fundamentalists.”
By succeeding at this division and supporting the ‘Modernist’/ ‘Progressive’ Muslims, Bernard hopes to invent a ‘civil democratic’ Islam that is less backwards and problematic. More specifically, she hopes to create an Islam that will surrender itself to the hegemony of the Neo Conservative Agenda.
So if the first step to deforming Islam is to exploit the labels that exist, let’s say: “Thanks, but no thanks.” God tells us: “And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided” (Qur’an,3:103). So although we really appreciate this effort to ‘civilize’ us and our religion—we’ll have to pass. You only reform something that’s corrupt or outdated. And you only fix something that’s broken.
And while it’s nice of you to want to call us ‘modern’ or ‘moderate,’ we’ll do without the redundancy. Islam is by definition moderate, so the more strictly we adhere to its fundamentals—the more moderate we’ll be. And Islam is by nature timeless and universal, so if we’re truly Islamic—we’ll always be modern.
We’re not ‘Progressives’; we’re not ‘Conservatives.’ We’re not ‘neo-Salafi’; we’re not ‘Sufi’; We’re not ‘Islamists’; we’re not ‘Modernists’. We’re not ‘Traditionalists’; we’re not ‘Wahabis.’ We’re not ‘Immigrants’ and we’re not ‘Indigenous.’ Thanks, but we’ll do without your prefix.
We’re just Muslim.
Also published at
Sunday, October 21, 2012
It is the maiden attempt by V S Mohammed Ameen, a young lad with a dream and passion to form a just, God-fearing, loving society.
It is a fitting reply to the dirty film (The Innocence of Muslims) which evoked massive upsurge throughout the world. Peaceful demonstrations were held in more than 800 cities and more than 50 brothers and sisters lost their lives in police shootings.
It is a just 14 minute feature film. The story is simple.
Ganesan a fruit vendor starts his day with parking his cycle ladden with fruits in front of a Madrasa. Suddenly he gets the news that his only son has met with an accident. Ganesan instantly abandons his fruits and cycle and rushes to his home.
On his way he gets the news that his son is okay. He returns with lots of apprehensions about his shop, fruits which he left unattended in a hurry. Thoughts and fears continue to creep in his mind. 'Somebody might have stolen my bicycle', he murmurs himself. 'The students might have eaten out all of my fruits', he fears. 'What to do for my livelihood, I should not have left it unattended' fearful thoughts bombard his beleagured soul. And with mixed feelings of joy, fear, sadnes he rushes back to the place where he left his 'shop' unattended. He felt happy because nothing serious happened to his son. He was afraid of losing all his fruits, bicycles. The thought of the loss of his 'shop' made him sad.
With these thoughts in his mind he returns the place. To his astonishment he sees his bicycle, fruits safe. Moreover he sees the students taking fruits and placing five rupee, ten rupee notes in the basket itself. He was simply perplexed.
Out of curiosity he asks a student. 'Why didn't you simply take away the fruit? What made you to place the money in the no man's shop?'. The student replies, 'Even if the shopkeeper or nobody is here, Allah is there Who watches us'.
Ganesan was dumbfounded by the reply. Who told you so? he asks. 'Muhammad the mercy to mankind has taught us this lesson'.
Then the student takes him to his teacher. The teacher welcomes him and explains the life and teachings of the Prophet of Islam.
Rest of the story could be seen in this 14 minute feature film.
It is aptly titled as Oru thuli kadal (One drop of Ocean).
Inequality is bad for economy, democracy and society. Much of the inequality in the US arises out of rent-seeking -monopoly, exploitive practices by banks and corporate exploitation of public resources. In the Indian context, you will call it corruption but we call it corruption American-style, where you give away natural resources below market prices. India is doing it now but America has a long history of doing this.
There is a clear association between inequality and instability. People at the top don't spend too much, they save a lot but people at the bottom spend everything. So you redistribute income from the bottom to the top and demand goes down. That makes an economy weak. That is what happened in the US. We would have had a weaker economy, but the Feds stepped in by creating a bubble that created more demand to offset the demand that was going down. Of course, creating a bubble was creating instability.
The advocates of FDI have probably put too much emphasis on it. India is in a different position than a small, developing country. You have a large pool of entrepreneurs. They are globally savvy, have access to global technology and they have a lot of wealth. So, if there were large returns to large-scale supermarkets, the domestic industry would have supplied it. Not having access to FDI is not an impediment in India. Wal-Mart is able to procure many goods at lower prices than others because of the huge buying power they have and will use that power to bring Chinese goods to India to displace Indian production. So the worry is not so much about the displacement of the small retail store but displacement further down the supply chain.Joseph Stiglitz in The Times of India Here
Life is always full of surprises, twists and turns.
It is God who shapes our lives. It is He who directs us.
The Prophet of Islam used to pray: "Oh God! Bless me with sudden, instant pleasant surprises and happiness. Protect me from sudden, instant unpleasant, tragic happenings and accidents"
திடீர் திருப்பங்களையும் ஆச்சரியங்களையும் கொண்டதுதான் வாழ்க்கை. நம்முடைய வாழ்வையும் செயல்களையும் இயக்குவது இறைவனே. கண்காணிப்பவனும் அவனே. ஆட்சியாளனும் அவனே. அண்ணல் நபிகளார்(ஸல்) பிரார்த்தித்து வந்தார்: "என் இறைவனே! திடீர் சந்தோஷங்களையும் இனிய ஆச்சர்யங்களையும் எனக்கு அருள்வாயாக. திடீர் திருப்பங்களிளிருந்தும் ஆபத்துகளிலிருந்தும் விபத்துகளிளிருந்தும் என்னைக் காப்பாற்றுவாயாக. "
Friday, October 19, 2012
The Four steps shown by the Quran to rule the world.
1. Criticize the Ideas (Afkar par tanqeed)
2. Change the Values (Aqdar ki tabdeeli)
3. Encounter the Issues
4. Transform the existing system.
Listen to the brilliant analysis by Br Ameenul Hasan. Jazakallah, Khalil Zuhair for uploading it in youtube
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Turkish democracy has gone through various phases, some good, some really bad. It has been characterized by military coups, political infighting, instability, weak coalition governments, corruption, mismanagement and economic crises. Strong unity governments have generally worked better for democratic reforms, political stability and economic development in Turkey as in elsewhere. The AK Party governments under Erdoğan over the last decade have made Turkey a better and stronger country.Ibrahim Kalin in Today's Zaman. Here
But no democracy is viable through party politics only. Society at large needs to take ownership. Erdoğan’s strong leadership has built new confidence among political elites as well as ordinary citizens about the nature of the political system in Turkey: no more military coups, no more corrupt politicians, no more unlawful state practices, and no more mismanagement. A democratic, stable and prosperous Turkey is a good thing also for regional peace and stability.
The AK Party’s challenges over the next few years will come not from the top down, but from the bottom up. Opposition parties are too weak to challenge the AK Party. Even the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) new-found activism under Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is not enough to shake up Erdoğan and his government. The CHP, while struggling hard, is yet to overcome decades of statism, politics of tutelage and ideological elitism.
The challenge will come from two fronts. The first is from within the party. With Erdoğan no longer the chairman of the party, the AK Party will have to make important adjustments to maintain intra-party peace and stability. This is not impossible as there are many experienced figures in the party, all of whom are loyal to the party’s mission. It is clear that Erdoğan himself will manage the next 2-3 years carefully to leave behind a strong party that will stand on its own.
The second challenge will come from within the support base of AK Party. With no real competitor on the horizon, the AK Party has only itself to compete with. This means performing better in politics in the widest sense of the term: providing better services, expanding the economy, completing multi-billion dollar projects such as fast train and nuclear energy, managing the trade deficit, writing a new constitution, solving the Kurdish issue, overhauling the education system, investing more in research and development, etc.
Will the presidential system make these goals easier to reach? This is what Erdoğan has in mind. It would be simplistic to treat this as Erdoğan’s personal ambition. He has enjoyed so much political success and status and has already left his mark on history that he does not need another title for himself.
The key here is the growing maturity of society as a whole in regards to the basic principles of political governance, participation and sharing. Erdoğan may have the courage and the means to solve the Kurdish issue, but he cannot do it alone without the support of the major political actors and society at large. A new constitution can be written when all segments of the Turkish public embrace it as a sine qua non for a new and better Turkey. The Turkish economy will continue to grow when everyone from the boss to the worker internalizes a strong work ethic.
Thursday, October 04, 2012
Regarding the latest attack on the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, Google has certainly acted as if Muslims do not matter. It has arrogantly refused to remove the offending content from the YouTube site that it owns. The offensive video, the reactions to it and the reactions to reactions have generated lot of heated debates.
Could it have been avoided?
Many have observed that the offensive video remained un-noticed for fifty-five days. Then curiosity traffic increased the hit count from five thousand to five million in a couple of days. Obviously ignoring it would have been a better option. That is true, as far as it goes. In the initial stage the best option was to ignore it. However those who profit from such offensive material also know this. They tried to get negative publicity in Rushdie affair, they tried it now and they will try it again. They will rub it in your face until there is a reaction. And when that happens, just wishing that there had been no reaction is not going to help us solve the problem.
What Makes Google Tick?
The question arises, why Google must rub it in our face? Google would not allow the freedom to insult to its own employees in its offices that it says we must learn to live with. Why? Why can’t it see reason? The answer lies in its very nature. It is a corporation---impersonal and amoral. You cannot plead with it on the basis of morality, decency, or sensibility. It does not understand the language of right and wrong or good and evil. It could not care less about the Prophets. It only cares about its profits. Right and wrong translate into profit and loss in its world. It would enforce a code of behavior and decorum in its offices because that is needed for ensuring productivity. It upholds the exact opposite on its sites because that is good for business. If it can increase its profits by inflicting pain on us it will gladly do that. If it sees that doing so reduces its profits, it will “find” that inflicting pain is wrong and insulting the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is immoral.
And it has been very successful.
Last year Google had revenues of nearly $40 billion. Ninety-six percent of these came from ads. And its claim to fame in the advertizing world is that it has revolutionized advertizing by providing targeted ads: Ads that are delivered to each viewer based on the personal preferences and interests of that viewer. Both the AdWords and AdSense programs that it uses are based on information about the users that it gathers and stores through their use of its free services.
It has a huge database about everyone who uses it and it uses that database to generate money. Every time you search for something using it, it learns something about your interests. It knows how to translate that information into hard cash because it can find the right buyers for that information. Every time you click on a Google ad, you are simply sending a check to Google as ad revenues are on a per click basis. It may be a fraction of a cent per click. But trillions of clicks turn into billions of dollars. In other words every time you use it you are financially supporting it and nurturing its arrogance.
It is our clicks that make Google tick.
Therein lies the secret to making it see reason. If most of us stop using Google even for one week, it will see such a huge shrinking of its revenue stream that it would find sensibility and decency faster than its fastest searches. It would immediately stop any and all insulting content if that happened.
A second but related area of our concern should be the otherwise responsible and serious websites that allow Google ads. When a web site agrees to allow Google to display ads on it, it gives them a blank space over which they can write the message they want. Google gets money from the ad sponsors for these directed ads and passes a fraction of that money to the site owner. For that fraction many “Islamic” sites are selling their iman. One can find a site hosting a lecture on Qur’an and Hadith and on the same page a Google ad displays a semi nude picture. Sometimes this blurring of the boundaries of the sacred and the profane is justified by the owners by issuing a disclaimer that they are not responsible for the ads. In most cases even the disclaimer is not there. As an example Pakistani Newspapers like Jang and Ummat frequently have obscene ads consisting of pictures of nude and semi nude women on their sites.
That such scandalous behavior has become acceptable is an indication of the toll that our blind submission to the Internet revolution has taken on us. For thinking people this should be cause for much reflection and soul searching. This calls for a new level of media activism that has been totally missing from the Muslim world. Isn’t it time that someone convinced the owners of such sites to stop allowing such ads?
Is It Futile?
There are those for whom all this talk is futile. In Google they see just an innocent search engine not a cold calculating advertizing giant that is also serving a cultural agenda, about which we may have some concerns. In the Internet and the media revolution they see only wonders.
It is part of a larger malaise in our attitudes about technology that we have been seeing for the past couple of centuries. In the 19th century the British introduced science and technology in the subcontinent through exhibitions for the public. The idea was not to educate but to impress. It was presented as magic. At an exhibition in Calcutta in the early 1800s the visitors were reported to make such comments as “Bap rey bap (Oh My!)…How fantastic.”
It seems we have not stopped saying “Bap rey bap… How fantastic.”
Once we come out of this spell, we may realize that technology both gives and takes away. And the resulting bargain will be in our favor only if we are actively negotiating with it instead of passively submitting to it. A cell phone magically can connect you to another person on the other part of the globe without any visible link. Yet it also disconnects you from your immediate surroundings. We see that in the horrible acts of insolence when people even in the Haram making tawaf are talking over their cell phones.
Once we determine that technology should be our servant and not our master, our attitudes about it will change dramatically. And so will our attitudes about the technology leaders. We may then realize that Google’s declared goal is to “change the world.” Can anyone in their right mind advocate that we should just be a passive spectator as they go about changing our world?
Khalid Baig in Albalaqh. Here
Of course in the latest episode Google is betting that our love for the convenience it offers is greater than our love for the Prophet and our sense of honor. And not even convenience but only addiction. For there are a dozen search engines like Bing out there that we could use without sacrificing anything.
It is only through our determined individual and collective efforts that we can convince the likes of Google, Facebook, and others to agree to a code of ethics that assures freedom from insults for everyone--- which is the only way to ensure peace in the global village.