Not Everyone is Innocent

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 27 February 2010 | Posted in ,

Name of Book: Evidence of Suspicion (A Writer's report on the war on terror)
Author: Amitava Kumar
Publisher: Picador India
Price: INR 350

By Abdullah Khan

Terrorism, according to the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, is the use of violence for political aims or to force a government to act, especially because of the fear it causes among people. What if a democratic government itself indulges in an act of violence against its own citizenry or people elsewhere as the means to some sort of imagined noble end? Is it still called Terrorism, or will we invent some fancy term like war against terror to cloak the immorality of the act?

Another question: how justified is a state to incite or instigate a citizen to commit a crime, when it suspects that person is likely to commit some crime in the future, and then punish him or her for a crime he or she never committed? Is it not in the penal code of every country that an abettor of crime should be treated on a par with the actual perpetuator of that crime? Then what is the status of the state?

Amitava Kumar's intriguingly titled book Evidence of Suspicion raises many more such questions, telling us how in this post 9/11 world, the liberal democratic states, from the USA to India, have become so paranoid while dealing with terrorism that their wars on terror have destroyed as many innocent lives, if not more, as terrorism has done. The book cites many examples where individuals were victims of state brutality in the name of fighting the scourge of extremism.

The most interesting, and strange too, is the story of Hemant Lakhani, a failed cloth salesman from London who was convicted of selling a missile to an FBI informant in USA. Lakhani was actually approached by the FBI informant who pretended to be an Islamic terrorist, to buy missiles. Though boastful of his connections with Ukrainian arms sellers, Lakhani was not able to procure any missiles. Ironically, the FBI itself had to manage missiles for Lakhani so that he could sell them to its informant.

Of course, Lakhani was not an innocent in absolute terms, but still he had not committed any crime. And the law of natural justice suggests you can't punish somebody before he commits a crime.

Amitava Kumar
Back home, Professor Kumar tells us about Iqbal Haspatel of Mumbai, who was incarcerated and tortured for days by police for possessing a missile. Later, it was discovered that the alleged missile was nothing but a part of some textile machinery. For the ignorance of the government officials, an innocent person had to suffer. Another classic example of ruthless and irresponsible behaviour of state machinery is the case of SAR Geelani. After the terrorist attack on Indian Parliament, police arrested Geelani and tortured him for months before he was finally acquitted. His detention was based on disputable evidence. Had he not been a Muslim, not a Kashmiri, not a professor of Arabic, the kind of evidence police had, might not have been enough for his arrest. But, unfortunately, he was all three. In the jaundiced eyes of the police, Geelani's religious, ethnic and professional identities made him perfectly qualified for being a 'terrorist'. To be precise, his arrest was based more on the preconceived notions of law enforcing agencies about a particular religious and ethnic group than solid evidence.

The book is part reportage, part philosophy, part protest, as the back cover informs us. Full of sublime narratives and subtle descriptions, it is a thoroughly fantastic book. The best thing about Kumar's writing is that seldom does he allow his personal prejudices to creep into the text. He acts more like a cameraman of a documentary film showing you a plethora of images. He also knows what to focus on, and when to zoom in or out. Then he leaves you free to reach your own conclusions. Like his earlier book Husband of a Fanatic, it is a must buy. And, of course, a must read too.

[Abdullah Khan is a banker from the north Indian city of Patna, Bihar. He has written for the local editions of The Times of India and The Hindustan Times. He is working on his first novel and can be reached at abdullah71@gmail.com]

Indian Muslim News - PEOPLE

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Discrimination, insensitivity pushes US Muslims to home schooling

By Moin Ansari

The Washington Post story on a rise in Muslim home schooling is very disturbing to Muslims, because it further highlights the extreme pressures faced by Muslims in US society. The discrimination against Muslims exacerbates relations with Islam and isolates Muslims. Concerted efforts must be made to reach out to Americans (who happen to be Muslim) so that they do not become isolated and ghettoized as in Europe or in Bharat (aka India). American Muslims are part and parcel of Americana–and most Muslim Americans are rich, prosperous, educated and part of the American dream.

On a chilly afternoon in western Loudoun County, a group of children used tweezers to extract rodent bones from a regurgitated owl pellet. A boy built a Lego launcher. A girl practiced her penmanship. On the wall, placards read, “I fast in Ramadan,” “I pay zakat” and “I will go on hajj.”

Welcome to Priscilla Martinez’s home — and her children’s school, where Martinez is teacher, principal and guidance counselor, and where the credo “Allah created everything” is taught alongside math, grammar and science.

Martinez and her six children, ages 2 to 12, are part of a growing number of Muslims who home-school. In the Washington area, Martinez says, she has seen the number of home-schoolers explode in the past five years.

Indian Muslim News - PEOPLE

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Bilateral repression for Myanmar's Rohingya

By Brian McCartan

The exact motives behind a recent crackdown on ethnic Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are still unclear, but some answers may be found across the border in Myanmar, where the ruling generals are maneuvering for votes in the lead-up to general elections slated for later this year.

The Rohingya, a Muslim minority living mostly in Myanmar's western Rakhine State, are ethnically, linguistically and religiously distinct from the majority Buddhist Rakhine of the state. Tensions and distrust between the two groups have periodically exploded into violence, and a Myanmar military operation in 1978 forced hundreds of thousands of them to flee to Bangladesh. Following that exodus, the Rohingya were officially declared stateless in a 1982 citizenship law.

Communal violence, which many believe was instigated by Myanmar's junta, resulted in 250,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh in 1991-1992. A United Nations-brokered forced repatriation in the late 1990s led to about 230,000 returning to Myanmar. Continued human-rights abuses against the estimated 725,000 Rohingya in Myanmar and the denial of citizenship rights, including the inability to own land and the necessity of obtaining government permission to travel or even marry, has resulted in many fleeing to Bangladesh in recent years.

Indian Muslim News - ISSUES

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‘Quran does not prohibit people of other faiths from referring to God as Allah’

Chandra Muzaffar is Malaysia’s best-known public intellectual. A professor at the Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, he recently assumed the position of  Chairman of the Board of Trustees of 1 Malaysia, a foundation set up by some concerned citizens to promote harmony between Malaysia’s various ethnic and religious communities. In this interview with Yoginder Sikand, he talks about the ongoing controversy in Malaysia in the wake of a recent court ruling permitting the country’s Christians (and other non-Muslims) to use the term ‘Allah’, which many Malaysian Muslims fiercely oppose.

Q: Why do you think many Malaysian Muslims are so opposed to the use of the term ‘Allah’ by Christians?

A:  I think among many Malaysian Muslims there is a certain degree of apprehension about Christians using the term because they feel that it is somehow exclusive to them. They also fear that some Christian groups deliberately want to use the term in order to mislead Muslims and gradually convert them to Christianity. Supporting these fears is the general Muslim mindset that sees Islam as special, as an exclusive claim to truth. Now, since Allah is the basis of Muslim doctrine, they feel that the term ‘Allah’ must be a Muslim monopoly.

Personally, I do not agree with this thinking, but you have to understand the general Malaysian Muslim response in the wider political context, in the context of how the Malays, who form the vast majority of Malaysia’s Muslims, feel about their position in Malaysia. This is linked to the perception that, historically, Malaysia was a Malay land and that, in the presence of large numbers of non-Malays who now live in Malaysia, and who are still economically strong, Malay identity needs to be protected and promoted. Islam is one of the major pillars of Malay identity, the other two being the Malay language and the Malay Sultans. Islam can be said to be an even more powerful pillar of Malay identity than the other two, the essence of which is the concept of Allah.

I think we need to deal with these fears about identity, and be careful not to dismiss them out of hand. We need to empathetically understand how many Malays feel about having once been a nation, living in a Malay land, and, then, with the advent of colonialism, being turned into an economically subordinate community in their own country. I think non-Muslims must appreciate these fears and concerns of many Malays.

On the other hand, we also need to educate the Malaysian Muslims, to convince them that there is nothing in Islam that forbids non-Muslims from using the term ‘Allah’. Unfortunately, that sort of public education has not been undertaken at all. We need to reach out to people and tell that that the Quran does not prohibit people of other faiths from referring to God as Allah. We need to explain to Malaysian Muslims that, historically, many non-Muslims have used the term ‘Allah’ to refer to the Divine, and that, in fact, the term Allah actually precedes the Quranic revelation. Even prior to the Prophet Muhammad there were a large number of Christian Arabs, and they, too, used the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God. And when Islam began spreading across the Arab world, the Muslims never forbade the Arab Christians from using the word ‘Allah’, although, of course, Muslims and Arabic-speaking Christians understood the word in different ways. Yet, it never became a theological problem. True, there were conflicts between Arab Christians and Muslims over many issues, but the use of the word ‘Allah’ by the former was never a problem or a cause of any conflict. I think Malaysian Muslims need to be educated about this.

Then, again, we need to educate Malaysian Muslims that the Christians of Sabah and Sarawak, in East Malaysia have been using the term Allah to refer to God for over a hundred years. They have all along been using the Indonesian translation of the Bible, which uses the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God. Of course, it is true that this translation, first made by Dutch Christian missionaries in what is now Indonesia, aimed at converting Muslims to Christianity, and so deliberately used the term ‘Allah’ instead of the Malay term Tuhan to refer to God. But, still, we cannot now tell the Christians of Sabah and Sarawak to stop using the word ‘Allah’. Their using that word has never caused any communal problem—in fact, in those parts of Malaysia there are numerous families that have both Christians and Muslim members, and relations between them have all along been fairly harmonious.

We also need to educate the Muslims of our country to understand that even other communities that live in Malaysia, such as Sikhs and some Hindus, also use the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God, in addition to other names. The word ‘Allah’ occurs 46 times in the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs.

Indian Muslim News - EDUCATION

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Indian Muslims want Jamia Millia Islamia’s status as a minority institution restored

By Shaheen Nazar

Restoring the status of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) as a Muslim minority institution appears to be the biggest concern of Indian Muslims.

Speakers at the university’s annual alumni function in Riyadh this Friday called on the Indian government not to play with the sentiments of Muslims by trying to change the character of an institution so close to the hearts of its biggest religious minority.

They expressed concern over the government’s pressure on the Delhi-based historic university to give up its constitutional right and provide 27 percent of its places to OBCs (other backward classes), the same as any other university in the country.

The speakers were of the view that this would be a violation of Article 30 (1) of the Indian constitution. An 11-judge bench at the Supreme Court of India has also established the university’s minority status, which allows it to reserve half its seats for the Muslim community, they said.

JMI was founded in 1920 during the Khilafat and Non-Cooperation movements in response to Mahatama Gandhi's call for a boycott of all educational institutions supported or run by the British colonial rule.

Leading Islamic scholars and political heavyweights of the freedom movement were directly associated with the university.

In December 1988 the JMI was made a central university by a Special Act of the Parliament.

The Jamia Millia Islamia Society, the private body, which has been governing the institution ever since its inception, was dissolved. However, the Act also recognized the predominant Muslim character of the JMI.

Indian Muslim News - ISSUES

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 26 February 2010 | Posted in

The Alchemy of Identities

By Abdullah Khan

In 1996, a day after India’s fantastic win over Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup Quarterfinal, I was sitting in the offices of a leading English daily in Patna, the capital of the northern Indian state of Bihar. At that time, I used to be a freelance contributor to this national paper’s local edition. The paper’s features team and I were, of course, discussing cricket. Everybody was trying to guess which strategy the Indian team would adopt against a resurgent Sri Lankan team in the semi-finals.

All of a sudden, the discussion meandered to a new topic: is it true that every Indian Muslim secretly cheers for the Pakistan Cricket Team? Later, a more specific question was thrown at me by one of the sub-editors: “Tell us what’s more important to you, being an Indian, or being a Muslim? If you had to decide between one or the other, which one would you choose?”

“Both my identities are significant to me,” I replied, explaining how a person is capable of belonging to multiple communities at the same time. For example, my identities as a Bihari and as an Indian were not contradictory. Even in my personal life, I could simultaneously be a father, a son. But not everybody was convinced by my answer. I could see that some eyes contained traces of doubt about my unflinching loyalty towards my country. This wasn’t the first time my sense of devotion to a secular country had been doubted simply because of my religion.

Indian Muslim News - ISSUES

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Knowing Eid Milad-un-Nabi – Birthday of Prophet Mohammad

By Iftikhar Chaudri

Eid Milad an-Nabi (Qur'anic Arabic: مَوْلِدُ آلنَبِيِّ mawlidu n-nabiyyi, “Birth of the Prophet” Standard Arabic: مولد النبي mawlid an-nabī, sometimes simply called in colloquial Arabic مولد , mawlid, múlid, mulud, milad among other vernacular pronunciations) is a term used to refer to the observance of the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad which occurs in Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar.

The term Mawlid is also used in some parts of the world, such as Egypt, as a generic term for the birthday celebrations of other historical religious figures such as Sufi saints.

Mawlid is derived from the Arabic root word (Arabic: ولد), meaning to give birth, bear a child, descendant. In contemporary usage, Mawlid refers to the observance of the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Indian Muslim News - TERRORISM

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 22 February 2010 | Posted in ,

Declare Texas plane attack an act of terrorism, demands US Muslim group Council on American-Islamic Relations

By Danish Ahmad Khan

The Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) on February 22, 2010 demanded that the perpetrator of February 18, 2010 crashing of a small plane into an Internal Revenue Service building in Austin, Texas, Andrew Joseph Stack, who killed himself and one IRS employee when he flew a lightweight plane into the building, be declared a terrorist. Executive Director of CAIR Nihad Awad said that if the Austin perpetrator had been Muslim the labelling as a terrorist would have been done by now. “American officialdom is looking on the act as a ‘criminal act by a lone individual’ according to the head of the local police. While, the FBI’s San Antonio office, which has also joined the investigation, looks on the act as ‘an assault’ on a federal officer,” Awad said and added, “Even local Congressmen are also having difficulty calling the act terrorism, including those who are ranking Republicans on the House’s Homeland Security Committee. The Obama White House is showing a similar reluctance. This contrasts with how Timothy McVeigh, who also blew up a federal office building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in April 1995, killing 168, was labelled a terrorist.”

According to Awad, the incident once again highlights the USA’s anti-Muslim prejudice, not just at the people’s level, but at the very highest level. The lawmakers have no hesitation in not just blaming Muslims, but also invading Muslim countries, on the basis of suspicion of involvement in terrorism, but where US non-Muslim citizens are involved, the reluctance is noticeable; it is almost as if the word ‘terrorism” has now been reserved for criminals who happen to be Muslim. "The position of many individuals and institutions seems to be that no act of violence can be labeled 'terrorism' unless it is carried out by a Muslim," said Awad.

Indian Muslim News - PEOPLE

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A Grain In My Empty Bowl

A crusader for justice is silenced. Actually not, says AJIT SAHI

Had Shahid Azmi been gunned down in Russia, China or Iran, his news would have been all over The New York Times the next morning. Working on the principle that the enemy’s enemy is a friend, the western media offer spectacular support to internal dissent against regimes that appear in eternal conflict with western governments and businesses. But Azmi lived and was assassinated in India, fighting the brutal police State that the Indian democracy has become in its dubious war against terrorism. Because the Indian State is hand-in-glove with the western powers, and because India’s dominant middle classes solidly back that relationship, the western or Indian media are unlikely to hail Azmi, who was killed in Mumbai on February 11, as a martyr to the cause of bringing justice to hundreds of the poor, mostly Muslims, falsely accused of terrorism.

But martyr Azmi is, no less than Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist and human rights activist who had already become a western icon for her courageous campaign against Vladimir Putin himself when she was shot dead at her Moscow apartment three years ago. Indeed, Russian, Chinese and Iranian dissidents take much heart from the western might backing them. Azmi’s campaign was, therefore, more courageous, for his work was doubly tainted as he defended “terrorists” allegedly once removed from anti-US terror groups, Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

We need to directly ask just who benefits from Azmi’s killing. The answer is a Who’s Who of Indian security: the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, RAW and the Intelligence Bureau, whose grand constructs on terrorism Azmi demolished each time he won a case. Maharashtra Police despised Azmi, for he represented, mostly successfully, many accused in a string of blast cases. Azmi had been preparing for the defence of dozens arrested since 2008 as members of Indian Mujahideen, which has been linked with last Saturday’s blast in Pune that killed 10 people. Azmi was also actively involved in organising legal defence for many arrested in Gujarat on charges of masterminding and carrying out terror attacks.

Indian Muslim News - TERRORISM

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Terrorism: the most meaningless and manipulated word

By Glenn Greenwald

On February 19, 2010 Joseph Stack deliberately flew an airplane into a building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas, in order to advance the political grievances he outlined in a perfectly cogent suicide-manifesto.  Stack's worldview contained elements of the tea party's anti-government anger along with substantial populist complaints generally associated with "the Left" (rage over bailouts, the suffering of America's poor, and the pilfering of the middle class by a corrupt economic elite and their government-servants).  All of that was accompanied by an argument as to why violence was justified (indeed necessary) to protest those injustices:

I remember reading about the stock market crash before the "great" depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn't it ironic how far we've come in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem; they just steal from the middle class (who doesn't have any say in it, elections are a joke) to cover their asses and it's "business-as-usual" . . . . Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer.

Indian Muslim News - ISSUES

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Hubbub over halal in France

By Tom Heneghan

After the noise over the niqab, now there’s a hubbub over halal in France.

Police in the northern city of Lille launched an investigation on February 19, 2010 into claims that a fast food restaurant was discriminating against non-Muslim customers by dropping bacon burgers from its menu and using only halal meat. The public prosecutor ordered the probe after the Socialist mayor of the nearby town of Roubaix sued the Quick fast food chain for switching to follow Muslim dietary laws in eight of its 350 branches.

Quick — a rival to far larger global chains like McDonald’s in France and Belgium — now offers smoked turkey and halal beef and no pork in those branches. “Why should the people of Roubaix be forced to go to Lille or elsewhere to find bacon?” Franck Berton, the lawyer for Mayor René Vandierendonck, asked when we asked him about this case.

The halal hubbub flared up this week after Marine Le Pen, vice president of the far-right National Front, charged last Sunday that clients “are forced because of halal meat to pay a tax to Islamic organizations” that certify the food was produced according to Muslim dietary laws. We examined this on Thursday in the news story “French politicians rap fast food chain for halal menu.”

Indian Muslim News - EDUCATION

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 21 February 2010 | Posted in

AMU signs MoU with George Washington University Law School, USA

The Aligarh Muslim University February 17, 2010 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the George Washington University Law School, USA that facilitate faculty members and PhD or SJD candidates from each other institutions to participate for a semester or two as Visiting Scholars for the purpose of conducting research.

The mutual cooperation envisaged individual scholars from both the law institutions to establish contacts and develop mutual interests. The major areas of cooperation includes Intellectual Property Law, Islamic Law, Constitutional Law, International and Comparative Law and Environmental Law.

The Aligarh Muslim University and the George Washington University Law School believe that the extension and strengthening of scientific exchange and cooperation will be of mutual value to their respective universities. It will develop understanding between them and further their respective goals of advancing justice.

Indian Muslim News - PEOPLE

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Urdu scholar Professor Masood Husain Khan felicitated

Ghalib Institute, New Delhi today felicitated noted Urdu scholar Professor Masood Husain Khan for his yeomen contribution to Urdu language and literature at Aligarh Muslim University. 

Ninety two years old Professor Masood Husain Khan had served as Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi and Jamia Urdu, Aligarh.

Prof. A. R. Kidwai, former Governor of Haryana felicitated him. On this occasion, Prof. A. R. Kidwai released a book on Prof. Masood Husain Khan’s life and contribution.

Noted historian Prof. Irfan Habib said that AMU has a pride in producing such type of Urdu personality and said that Prof. Masood is a rationalist and he adopted scientific linguistic approach.

Prof. Imtiaz Hasnain, Chairman, Department of Linguistics at AMU said that prof. Masood Husain Khan is a doyen of Urdu linguistics and placed Urdu on the map of academic world of serious linguistic studies.

His magnum opus, a history of Urdu language, originally his PhD dissertation which was published in 1948, advanced a new theory of Urdu’s birth, contradicting all theories hitherto popular among scholars.

Prof. Imtiaz Hasnain mentioned that Prof. Masood Husain Khan represents the generation of phonologists, called the British phonologists, who developed the concept of prosodic features for describing the phonological structure of language.

He has authored several books including the rise and fall of Urdu in India.

Professor Siddiqur Rahman Kidwai, Secretary and Shahid Mahuli, Director of Ghalib Institute, New Delhi, Dr. Khalique Anjum, Secretary of Anjuman Taraqqi-e-Urdu, Delhi also addressed the felicitation function.

‘Modern education only way to bring change to Muslims’

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Calling for an upgradation of the scientific apparatus and infrastructure in madarsas and Muslim minority schools, the All India Organisation of Imams of Mosques, which claims to represent half a million imam of the country, on February 20, 2010 emphasised that there was no division between traditional madarsa education and modern education.

The first-ever national education conference held by the organisation, on the `Role of Ulemas in Educational Upliftment of Indian Muslims', saw unanimity among the participants that education is the only tool which could bring about social change "to shift the community's focus from agitation based polity to real issues of socio-economic transformation''.

"In the present scenario when Muslims are subjected to all kinds of allegations and false charges and when Islam, Muslims and terrorism are being projected as synonymous terms, it was felt all the more important to bring religious and intellectual leadership together to suggest ways and means to improve the educational plight of Muslims in India,'' said organisation chief Umer Ahmad Ilyasi.

The organisation decided that it will soon present HRD minister Kapil Sibal with a charter of demands for improving the state of education among Muslims. These include a master plan to encourage education of the Muslim girl child and ensuring a role for Muslims in policy making, implementation and enforcement by the HRD ministry.

Sibal, in a written message to the conference, said that madarsas were playing an important role in the education of children who failed to get admission in government schools. "The recent law on education for all and free education up to 14 years of age will address, to a large extent, the problem. Our government and my ministry does not intend to interfere in the madarsa system and the government will not take any step towards setting up a madarsa board till there is a consensus among all sects of the Muslim community and other stake holders,'' said Sibal.

The conference also called for the present scheme of recognizing madarsa certificates and degrees for pursuing higher studies to be extended to all universities and that these are treated "on par with their counterparts for seeking employment in government and private sectors''. It demanded that Jamia Millia be accorded minority status and also that a committee be formed to look into the inadequacies of the minority character of Aligarh Muslim University.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

Indian Muslim News - EDUCATION

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Aligarh Muslim University Court members elected 
In the crucial annual meeting of AMU Court eminent theologian and President of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Maulana M. Rabe Nadvi, former India’s Hockey Captain Zafar Iqbal, Prof. A. M. Pathan, Vice Chancellor of Central University of Karnataka, former India’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Mr. Ishrat Azeez and eminent scientist Dr. Shahid Jameel were elected as members of the Aligarh Muslim University Court, the supreme governing body of the University.

The election of 42 representatives from the six different categories to serve as members on the University Court was announced yesterday night. Seventy six candidates were in fray. Eighty-nine members of the University Court attended the annual meeting of the University Court. Some of the prominent members who attended the meeting were Mr. Mohammad Shafi Quraishi, Chairman, National Minorities’ Commission, Padma Bhushan Mr. Moosa Raza, Prof. R. P. Singh, former Vice Chancellor of Lucknow University, Mr.Naseem Ahmad, ex-Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, noted sociologist Prof. Imtiaz Ahmad, noted educationist Mr. A. R. Sherwani, Mr. Shahnawaz Husain, former Union Minister, Mr. Rashid Alvi, Mr. M. I. Shahnawas, Mr. Shafiqur Rahman Barq, Ms. Kusum Rai and Dr. Monajir Husain (all MPs).

Noted industrialist Mr. Ameer Ahmad, Chairman, Teejan Groups of Industries, Muscat, Oman, Mr. Nadeem A. Tareen, Educationist and Philanthropist, Prof. Syed Khalifatullah, President, Niyamat Science Academy, Chennai, Mr. Ishrat Azeez, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Mr. Basheer Thangal, President, Kerala Muslim Education Association, Ms. Parveen Talha, former Member of Union Public Service Commission, Prof. Zakia A. Siddiqui, Khwaja Mohammad Shahid, Director Institute of Secretariat Training and Management, New Delhi were also declared elected as member of the University Court for a period of three years. Padma Shri Professor Siddiqur Rahman Kidwai, Secretary, Ghalib Institute, New Delhi and Professor Shamim Hanafi of Jamia Millia Islamia were elected to represent Urdu language and literature.

Indian Muslim News - ISSUES

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 20 February 2010 | Posted in

Muslim as Minorities in Secular Nation-States

By Maqbool Ahmed Siraj

The world we live in today is no longer a combination of regions or states that are culturally or faithwise pure. During the last 200 years, the political geography has altered the map of the world in that nation-states have replaced empires and sultanates. There are over 1.57 million Muslims in the contemporary world*. In nearly 56 countries they are in majority and are masters of their own destiny. But nearly a third of the total Muslims reside as minorities in large number of countries outside the Muslim world, be it for historical reasons, as economic migrant or dislocated for political reasons hence refugees. Besides, several Muslim countries have sizeable non-Muslims living as minorities within their political domain. Even the vast swathe of land constituting the Middle East (where Muslims share Arabic and Islam as integral elements of their identity), is divided into as many as 22 Arab nation-states.  Neither all Arabs are Muslims, nor all Muslims are Arabs. This in itself is a testimony to the fact that universal brotherhood of Muslim ummah is largely notional and nation-states are a reality that simply cannot be wished away.  The term Ummah is of course invoked emotionally every time Muslims make a common cause or face certain issues maligning their faith e.g., publication of sacrilegious cartoons by the Danish Daily or Salman Rushdie’s book derogatory of the Holy Prophet.  It also becomes a rallying point if the issue is Islam-specific and support has to be generated on the basis of faith. But national borders restrict its applicability inasmuch as Muslims in all nation-states have to be governed in conformity to their own Constitutions rather than a universal code. Common elements of faith, religion and culture do define the contours of their states as a whole, but ethnicity, languages they speak, the collective memory of the past (i.e., history), come into play when it comes to laying down the rules of governance. And every state is guided by its security or economic interest in such matters. It is why bodies like the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) have remained more of a forum of discussion of common issues. In fact, its relevance to the life of an average citizen of Muslim nations pales into insignificance when compared to European Union (EU) which is a forum of culturally disparate and historically mutually squabbling nations of Europe. While OIC remains a non-entity even in matters of a common currency, EU has successfully put in place a common market, common currency i.e., Euro and security blocks.

Issue of nation-state has hardly ever received the scholastic attention among Muslims as it ought to have deserved. The question of religious minorities is essentially an adjunct to such a discussion. Even here the question of non-Muslim minorities in Muslim nation-states has received greater focus as it draws some legitimacy owing to its mention in the Holy Quran and Hadith wherein non-Muslims are described as Zimmi. But the status of Muslim minorities in non-Muslim nation-states such as those in India, Russia, China, or United States and the countries of Europe has hardly ever been discussed threadbare. Mercifully, Muslims in these nation-states had had the advantage of a democratic set-up and have developed religious and cultural institutions commensurate with the demands of their faith. They are well integrated into those societies and doing well for themselves. In fact, some of these minorities have enjoyed more civil liberties than their counterparts in the so-called Muslim nation-states. Occasionally, issues such as headscarves, growing of beard while serving in armed forces, or Ramazan rigmarole, or sacrilege of religious figures do crop in. They are also subjected to racial profiling, discrimination and hostility from extreme nationalist forces. But overall liberal humanism that guides these states provides the necessary legal and constitutional framework for the resolution of these issues. What is obvious is that much of the issues pertaining to Muslim minorities find solution in the liberal-humanistic set up they have opted for, rather than any intellectual initiative from the Muslim minority itself.

Indian Muslim News - TERRORISM

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Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Al-Asheikh calls for fighting terrorism

Saudi Arabia’s top religious authority on Friday denounced terrorism as un-Islamic and condemned the killing of civilians, saying such attacks have nothing to do with Islam.

“Terrorism is criminal and spills the blood of innocents,” said Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al-Asheikh, chairman of the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars.

“It attacks security, spreads terror among people and creates problems for society ... Such acts are forbidden by Islamic law,” he said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

“It is necessary to fight the attempts of some to attach terrorism to Islam and Muslims with the goal of distorting the religion and assailing its leadership role in the world,” he added.

Al-Asheikh’s statement came on the eve of a workshop on combating terrorism and its financing. The workshop, to be held in Riyadh, has been organized by the Commission for Investigation and Public Prosecution in association with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in the Middle East and North Africa. Eleven international experts are to take part in the program.

Saudi Arabia has been fighting terrorism for many years. It has a wealth of experience in successfully combating terrorism and terror financing,” said Al-Asheikh emphasizing the need to make use of Saudi Arabia’s expertise in the field.

He said Islam has prohibited killing innocent people. “If anyone kills a person, and this killing is not in retaliation for a murder or is done to spread mischief in the land, then it is as if he has killed the whole of mankind. And if anyone saves a life, it is as if he has saved the whole of mankind,” the mufti said quoting a verse from the Holy Qur’an.

Al-Asheikh called for international cooperation to fight terrorism, something that threatens not only Muslims but the whole of mankind. “We should dry the sources of terror funding and their sources of weapons,” he said.

The three-day workshop in Riyadh will include 16 sessions, which will focus on expanding international cooperation and developing judicial systems and regulations to confront terrorism and exchanging information among countries and international organizations.

Topics such as the Kingdom’s experience in combating terrorism, the UAE’s anti-terror legislation and the efforts of Naif Arab University for Security Sciences in fighting terrorism are also to be discussed at the workshop.

(Courtesy: Arab News)

Indian Muslim News - PEOPLE

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

AMU professor Akhtar Haseeb awarded for contributing in plant protection research

Prof. Akhtar Haseeb, Chairman, Department of Plant Protection, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has been conferred with the "Late. P. P. Singhal Memorial Award-2009-10" instituted by P. I. Industries, Udaipur through the society ofPlant Protection Sciences, division of Nematology, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi for outstanding contribution to research, teaching and extension in plant protection during the 8th National Symposium on "Problems and Prospective in Eco-friendly Innovative to Plant Protection" held at Chandra Shekhar Azad University of Agricultural & Technology, Kanpur (CSAUK).

The award carrying a cash price of Rs.10, 000, a certificate and a memento was formally given in the inaugural ceremony by the Vice Chancellor, Dr. G.C. Tiwari, CSAUK and former, Director General (Education), Indian Council ofAgricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi. Prof. Haseeb also chaired a technical session in the symposium.

Prof. Haseeb has many honours and awards to his credit including the prestigious, "Vigyan Gaurav Samman" of Uttar Pradesh Council of Science and Technology, government of UP, "Dr. B. Vasantharaj David Award-2008" of AZRA, "Life Time Achievement Award-2009" conferred by society for Scientific Development in Agriculture and Technology, Jhansi, CSAUK and Scientific & Applied Research Centre, Meerut; "Outstanding Scientist Award" of Society ofPlant Protection Sciences, 1999.

He was also nominated as Chairman, Regional Advisory Committee, Regional Directorate, Central Board for Workers Education (Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India) for the second term, Scientific Advisor of the Bioengineering and Biological Sciences, Member, Board of Management, Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, Member, Advisory Committee for publication of Hindi Magazines of ICAR, New Delhi, member, Vigyan Jagat, All India Radio.

Prof. Haseeb has the distinction of being an expert/ examiner of more than 30 (Agricultural, Central and State) universities for evaluation and viva-voce examination of PhD thesis.

He has been the Principal Investigator/ Co-Investigator of several research projects/centers funded by ICAR, DBT, UPCAR, UPCST and AICRP-Nematodes etc.

He also has the voluntary centers of All India Coordinated Research Project-Nematodes-ICAR-Ministry of Agriculture, for chick pea, pigeon pea and MULLaRP.

He has patented a high menthol yielding hybrid clone of Mentha arvensis cv. Himalaya in United States Department of Commerce, Washington.

He has more than 150 publications to his credit including book chapters and research papers published in reputed national and international journals published from USA, UK, France, Italy, China, India etc.

Indian Muslim News - BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

Gujarat built mosques to draw Arab ships

By Ashish Vashi & Harit Mehta

Can you imagine a non-Muslim building a mosque in 21st century India? May sound impossible today. But, two far-sighted Jains built one of the earliest mosques in Gujarat, a state that has seen some of the worst post-independence communal riots.

And, all this for the sake of business. Between 1178 and 1242, Vastupal and Sheth Jagdusha built mosques in Cambay and Bhadreshwar in Kutch to attract Arab and Turkish traders, who would bring in foreign exchange. While Vastupal was the commissioner of Cambay port, Jagdusha was a merchant of Bhadreshwar port in Kutch. Jains have been an important business community from the earliest time till today.

‘History of International Trade And Customs Duties In Gujarat’, a book by historian Makrand Mehta, says Vastupal encouraged Muslims to settle down in Cambay and Anhilwad Patan, the capital of the Solanki-Vaghela rulers of Gujarat.

The accounts of Arab travellers like Masudi Istakhari Ibn Hauqal and others, who visited Gujarat between the 9th and 12th centuries, amply testify to the settlements of Muslims in Cambay and other cities of Gujarat.

“But the Muslims settlements could hardly have developed without the support of the Solanki rulers. In fact, they attracted the Arabs and Persians to Cambay and Vastupal did it by constructing mosques for them,” says Mehta.

Jagdusha was not officially designated as a customs collector but he had cultivated excellent relations with ship captains and customs staff. Although a devout Jain, as a staunch businessman he understood the value of foreign exchange. “For this reason he also constructed a mosque in Bhadreshwar, his hometown,” according to the book.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

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