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SPECIAL REPORT: Muslims persona non grata in Modiland

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 30 November 2012 | Posted in , , , , ,

[The much-hyped Sadbhavna Mission by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has finally fallen flat and is tinged with "Durbhavna" (animosity and hatred) against Muslim community in the state. In the final run-up to the assembly polls in the state, Muslims have been completely left out in the list of candidates released by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). For the Narendra Modi-led BJP government, Muslims continue to be untouchables as ever even as he tries to hardsell his so-called state's development in foreign countries. Getting rid of the communal tag (remember infamous Gujarat 2002 riots) will now remain a mirage for Narendra Modi forever as electoral dividends continue to weigh heavily on his mind. Presented here is an incisive report by Abdul Hafiz Lakhani, IMO Gujarat Bureau Chief. -- Danish Ahmad Khan, Founder-Editor, Indian Muslim Observer]

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

Ahmedabad: Despite indications that the state BJP is courting them for the first time, (which has fallen flat with not a single Muslim being given party ticket for forthcoming assembly elections) the 36.5 lakh Muslim voters in Gujarat are in a Catch-22 situation. While most of them are wary of voting for BJP for ideological reasons, they are equally disenchanted with the Congress which is allegedly insensitive to their community.

“While Muslims do not like BJP owing to ideological reasons, they find the Congress insensitive to Muslim issues,” says Junagadh-based social activist Haji Harun. He cites the instance of Congress-ruled Junagadh Municipal Corporation (JMC), which has seven Muslim corporators.

“Congress came to power in JMC with Muslim support but did not give any important post in the civic body to a Muslim,” Harun says.

Interestingly, JMC is rumoured to go the Gandhinagar way, whose mayor and two corporators joined the BJP recently.

“Muslims are no doubt feeling uncomfortable with the Congress,” says Hamidullah Petiwala from Juhapura, who is an IT professional.

The community, which has remained loyal to the Congress for a long time in Gujarat, now wants its due share. The Gujarat Congress’s minority cell is reported to have demanded 14 tickets for Muslims from the areas that have a sizeable population of the minority community.

In 2007 Assembly elections, Congress had given tickets to six Muslim candidates of which five won.

Muslim leaders argue that the Congress has been giving fewer tickets to Muslims — there were 15 Muslim MLAs in 1985 — since growth of communalism in 1980s reduced the prospects of Muslims winning the seats.

On the other hand, BJP is making some cautious efforts to reach out to Muslims and has even pulled off some surprises like weaning away former state Congress spokesperson Asifa Khan, which was embarrassing for the Congress since Khan was handpicked by none other than Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel. Another big catch for the BJP is retired IPS officer Abdullah Ibrahim Saiyed.

While speculation is rife that the BJP may give more than five tickets to Muslims this time around, there are also murmurs in the minority community that even those of them who are backing BJP have to face some discrimination. As a worker of BJP’s minority cell puts it, “All other office-bearers, except us, have got space to sit and work in BJP’s head office in Khanpur.”

In another instance, the name of Mahebubali Chishti’s aka Mahebub Baba, who as president of BJP’s minority cell was instrumental in mobilising Muslims for CM Narendra Modi’s Sadbhavana fasts, was missing from BJP’s official website until recently. However, Baba is the only Muslim in the list of star campaigners the BJP has sent to the Election Commission.
Baba, who was recently appointed chairman of the state Haj committee, says nearly 200 Muslims owing allegiance to BJP and winning local body elections showed the minority community’s tilt toward the saffron party. “There has been no communal rioting under BJP’s rule in Gujarat except the Godhra incident,” he says.

Rajeeka Kacheria, BJP’s IT Cell convener, says Baba’s name was missing from the BJP’s website because of a technical mistake that has now been corrected.

Apart from Congress and BJP, there are other parties like the Samajwadi Party, BSP, JD(U) and the Lok Janshakti Party in the fray, but most Muslims in Gujarat are likely to vote either for BJP or the Congress since the state’s politics has traditionally been bipolar.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]

Double discrimination

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

An IIM-A study reveals that Muslims perceived lowest fairness in five core areas of social prestige, economics, education, employment and politics

By Mohammad Ali

The perception of being treated ‘unfairly’ is still high amongst the Muslim minority of India, more than six decades after independence, states a joint study conducted by Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and Delhi-based think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF).
In the study titled ‘Education and Employment among Muslims in India’ by Prof Rakesh Basant, Hindus, Muslims and Christians were asked questions on their perception of participation in different spaces. While the Hindu respondents reported highest sense of being treated fairly, their Muslim counterparts perceived lowest fairness in five core areas of social prestige, economics, education, employment and politics.

The study noted that while the school enrolment rates for Muslims had improved in recent years, school dropout rates continued to rise. School drop out rates are “among the highest for Muslims and go up significantly after the stage of middle school.”

The double burden that the Muslims carry of being labelled ‘anti-nationalists’ while at the same time they are seen as being appeased by vested interests, is one of the reasons for the community’s perception of ‘being treated unfairly’, states the study.

“The fact that the appeasement attempts have not resulted in any benefits is typically ignored. Identity markers often lead to suspicion and discrimination by people and institutions,” the study adds.

The perception of being treated unfairly results in a growing sense of insecurity taking root in the psyche of the community, especially in communally sensitive states and particularly among women. The discriminatory attitude of the police and others compounds this feeling; choosing to live in ghettos is a result of the sense of insecurity and discrimination in housing, schools and jobs, states the study.

Credit flows are virtually non existent in Muslim concentrated areas, which curtails the ability of the community to improve its economic status, says the study. A bias in the implementation of government programmes and in infrastructure development in these areas, compounds the problem of unemployment amongst the community.

Highlighting the links between economic and political spaces, the study suggests enhanced participation of Muslims in governance. “Nominations of ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities in local level bodies as is the case in Andhra Pradesh would be a good starting point.”

The study also recommends that delimitation of electoral constituencies should be rationalised “urgently”, so that constituencies with high minority population share are not reserved for Scheduled Castes, which seems to be the case in many states currently.

To improve the condition of Muslims, the study underscores the need to enhance diversity in different spaces including economics, education, employment and politics. It suggests, along the lines of the Sachar Committee recommendation, “acceptable” and “transparent” incentive based Diversity Index be evolved.

Prof Basant suggests that the Diversity Index may include socio-religious category status, gender and other elements as well. But eventually diversity should be a corporate social responsibility, he stresses.

To facilitate employment and educational prospects among Muslims, the study recommends incentivising private educational institutions and corporate houses. An educational institution could get additional grants for diverse student population, firms could get some tax cuts for diverse workforce and builders could get land at concessional rates for making composite housing societies.

While talking about the basis for affirmative actions, Prof Basant says that educational qualifications of the parents and not the caste, should determine eligibility for affirmative action. “Such a policy will take away caste, religion and even economic status, and move away from policies of reservation and quotas.”

(Courtesy: The Hindu)

Mass Communication & Jr. students of Jamia Millia Islamia given scholarships by HWF

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

IMO News Service

New Delhi: Human Welfare Foundation has organized Scholarship-cum-Orientation programme for meritorious but deserving muslim student at Jasola Vihar, near Living Style Mall on 28th November 2012.

The scholarships were given to 40 (Forty) students. Most of the students were from Mass. Comm. & Journalisam from JMI and other courses like Economics, social sciences etc.
The programme was presided by Rafeek Ahmed, Asstt.. Sec. of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH). On this occasion he said that today only attaining good marks is not enough but there is need to develop excellency also.

He further said that the purpose of attaining education is to become a real human being and develop humanity and do social service towards underprivileged sections of the society.
For journalism students, he emphasized to command over language especially English language and improve General Knowledge which will help the students for selection in government jobs and in interviews.

Prominent journalist and political activist Dr. Qasim Rasool Ilyas graced the occasion as Chief Guest. He highlighted about the role of media and how the Muslim journalist can write about the positive perspective of Muslims and the efforts of muslims and do for the downtrodden sections of the society.

The students are selecting the courses like Medical and Engineering and other professional courses but the society need the students of humanities, social worker also,” said Zahoor Ahmed, Incharge of Scholarship Dept.

Zahoor Ahmed told that recently some IAS aspirants who cleared PT of UPSC have been awarded with 50,000/- as financial assistance.

An Islamic book Maksad-e-Jindagi ka Islami Tasawwar – Written by Late Dr. Abdul haque Ansari sb. were also gifted to the students who received scholarship by HWF.

HWF has been providing the scholarship to three years for undergraduate students and two or more years scholarships depending upon the course which the student has selected.

Asst. HR & Admin, Zahid Hussain, Senior Accountant, Rashad Fazli and other staffs of HWF were present in this occasion. Bazlul Basid Chowdhury thanked all the participants and the students.

AMP to organize discussion on 'Vision 2020 for Indian Muslims' Dec 1

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

IMO News Service

Mumbai: Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) as part of its continuous endeavours in empowering and giving the Muslim community of India a dream, to look forward to and Plan Ahead as envisaged by Dr.A P J Abdul Kalam is organizing a discussion on the topic of ‘Vision 2020 for Indian Muslims – Planning for the future’. The event will be held on Saturday, 1st December 2012 at Burhani College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Mazgaon, Mumbai at 3:30 pm as a part of AMP’s Highly Popular Career Fest. In an effort to bring together all the stake holders involved and engage with the decision making bodies. AMP had invited Honourable Union Minister for Minority Affairs Dr. K Rahman Khan. He has kindly consented to engage in the thought provoking discussion. It would be presided over by Hazrat Sayed Mohammad Qasim Ashraf, a respected Islamic scholar and community enthusiast. The discussion would see the participation of Dr. Zaheer Kazi – President Anjuman Islam, Dr. Javed Jamil – Islamic Social Scientist, Mr. Amin Patel, Chairman, MAMFDC & MLA, and many other scholars, intellectuals, Professionals, students and general public.

"Everyone acknowledges that Indian Muslim community is going through a difficult phase. The lack of political, social and economical representation of the community is continuing. The educational backwardness of the community and especially the professional education has been dismal despite well hearted efforts. The lack of interest shown by centre and state governments on Implementing the recommendations of Justice Rajendra Sachar committee and Incoming reports of funds allocated to minorities not reaching MCDs has strewn concerns in every Secular Indian.

"Despite all the seemingly dim scenes there are positive aspects as well. Muslims of India are now willing to come into the mainstream at unprecedented levels, they are much more aware of their rights then they were in the history of Independent India, the entire community has rejected the extremist ideas, people are working hard to help each other within the community. There are concerted lobbying efforts for community issues and requirements which have thankfully moved to bread and butter issues of education and employment. There has been huge number of NGOs coming forward from concerned people with humble means to help the community. The discontent among the youngsters can be felt which needs to be channelized into positive energy. A number of Muslim Youth groups have come forward with innovative ideas for Progress of the community.

"He who fails to plan, Plans to fail – goes a famous saying. At the moment the Indian Muslim community does have sufficient potential and will to bring an outright change to its state. But the masses need guidance. A myriad of Organizations striving for the same goal are in an urgent need for synchronization, a general coordination needs to be developed. Vision 2020 for Indian Muslims is a humble attempt to bring about that. The Muslim Community needs to work in coherence and with a common vision. Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) believes in dialogue as the way forward to build commonalities and to synchronize efforts which are otherwise divided and as such are not yielding the full Potential. A tiny drop of our effort would yield a ripple of discussion which will sweep every corner of our great Nation, scintillate our senses and result in the development of a common vision shared by every Muslim soul in India," said Mohammad Shahnshah Ansari, a prominent AMP official, in a press release.

Indo-Pak Ties: Cricket diplomacy may well be the answer

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

It is now time for both India and Pakistan to learn from the distant past and move forward towards normalisation of relations

By Tariq A. Al Maeena

Back in the early ‘70s, the world was engulfed in a Cold War. On the one hand was the US, an advocate of democracy. The other side had two equally formidable forces — the Soviet Union, vanguard of socialism, and China, the kingdom of the principles of Maoism. Those were tense times as each side had the capacity to wipe out the other.

Considerable thaw in the relations between the US and China took place in April 1971, when a team of nine American ping pong players stepped on Chinese soil for the first time in decades, playing against Chinese opponents and visiting historical places of interests as guests of their Chinese hosts. It was the legendary Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China, along with his premier, Zhou En Lai, who approved the invitation to its staunch foes, the Americans.

That sports interchange subsequently resulted in the first-ever visit by a US President to present day China. In 1972, President Richard Nixon’s visit to China was the first step taken that eventually led to normalisation of ties between the two superpowers. During his week-long visit, Nixon was busily engaging in dialogue with party leaders, including Chairman Mao, and was treated with deference and respect everywhere he went. He later termed the significance of the visit as “the week that changed the world”. It is an acute observation by one who understood that cooperation would be more fruitful than continued confrontation as there would be no winners in a hostile scenario.

Photo Courtesy: Luis Vazquez/Gulf News
Relations, once wary and cold, suddenly warmed up as people from both sides began to visit each other. Economic relations boomed as US multinationals signed up joint ventures with their Chinese partners. Indeed, the epoch of the Cold War with the Chinese had slowly dissipated.
Now flash forward some 40 years on to two other nuclear giants — Pakistan and India. Relations between these two countries have ebbed and flowed since their independence and the subsequent wars. Matters took a sinister path when a group of terrorists originating from Pakistan ventured into Mumbai in 2008, creating mayhem and gunning down innocent people. Some 166 people lost their lives in the frenzy of bloodletting that only served to further the discord between these two nations.

One of the first casualties of this heinous incident was the snapping of all cricketing ties between the two countries. For a laymen to understand, the game of cricket is seen as a religion and not a sport in these two countries. And no event transfixes both nations to a standstill more than a confrontation on the playing field between the teams representing the two countries. Passions run high and battle lines are drawn as players take to the field. And with the freeze in relations and the absence of such competition, many felt the game was the ultimate loser.

Following behind-the-scenes negotiations between sporting boards of both nations, an agreement was reached in July this year that would permit the Pakistani cricket team to visit and play India in a series of matches in the coming months. The decision brought relief to millions of fans from both sides, who wanted to see fair competition on the playing field. The Indian Home Minister, Sushil Shinde, in explaining the decision said: “We must have friendly relations. What once happened in the past should not mean that all the time we should repeat it. We must maintain sportsmanship and a sport like cricket is certainly welcome. It should be free from politics. Whether it is sports or cultural affairs or whether it is singing or dancing, all these activities should be restricted to those activities only.”

Pakistan’s former cricket captain and current prominent politician, Imran Khan, declared: “I welcome India’s decision to revive cricket with Pakistan. Anything which can bring both the countries to negotiations and normalcy is very good and we must appreciate that.”

And yet, there are those who do not want the spirit of normality to foster. The extremist Indian right-wing group of Shiv Sena, who have often used terror against minorities and Muslims, immediately denounced the agreement. Their chief, Balasaheb Thackeray, who recently passed away, admonished the government by questioning: “How can we so easily forget the bloodbath that happened in CST [Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai’s principal railway station] because of Pakistani terrorists? How can we forget the wounds that Pakistan has given us?” He then exhorted his followers to use all possible means to prevent the event from taking place.

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar was another one who criticised his country’s decision to revive the Indo-Pak bilateral cricket ties. But as one former Indian cricketer retorted: “It is surprising to hear his views about ties with Pakistan. I would have thought that a cricketer of his standing would know better than to mix cricket with politics. Besides, Gavaskar will be the first to sign that commentator’s contract for a good sum of money and discard his political position.”
It is now time for these two nations to learn from the distant past and move forward towards normalisation of relations. And what better way to do it than on the cricket field?

[Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.]

(Courtesy: Gulf News)

World’s First Muslim Spelling Bee Competition Launches 2013 Competition

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

• Successfully conducted Muslim Spelling Bee 2012 in Nine regional locations
• Sole objective is to increase Muslim Students participation in local, national and international educational competitions.
• New locations added -- Maryland, Missouri and Sacramento
• Connecting Communities across North America, U.K, Dubai, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Asia

IMO News Service

Chicago (U.S.A) : After successful conducting the Muslim Spelling Bee 2012 edition through the support of nine regional Islamic School - American Youth Academy, Tampa, Florida; Al-Ihsan Academy, South Ozone Park, New York; Darul Arqam, South River, New Jersey; Al-Hadi School of Accelerative, Houston, Texas; MCC Fulltime Islamic School, Morton Grove, Illinois; Mohammed Schools of Atlanta, Atlanta-Decatur, Georgia; Orange Crescent School, Garden Grove, California; Islamic School of Irving, Dallas/Forth/Worth, Texas and Precious Sprouts Of Ann Arbor, Detroit, Michigan.

This year Muslim Spelling Bee added three locations- Muslim Community of Folsom, Folsom/Sacramento, California; Muslim Community School/ Alim Academy, Potomac, Maryland and Al-Salam Day School, St. Louis, Missouri so students from other parts of the country can participate in the competition.

Chicago-based entrepreneur Tausif Malik perceived a need for a platform of competition in which children could engage from around the world. “Muslims are not aware of spelling beesnbecause they are focused on getting their children into engineering or medicine,” says Tausif.

Hence, choosing a talent that is universal to the age group helped us select ‘spelling’. TMA Worldwide, the Group organising the inter-school, inter-state, inter-region competition would also launch other educational competitions such as Muslim Science Bee, Muslim Math Bee, Muslim Geography Bee and Muslim Science Projects.

This year the competition has added a new group for students who are very young especially from the kindergarten. The competition is scheduled to begin in February 2013 and conclude in May 2012 at the historic Des Plaines Theatre, Des Plaines (suburb of Chicago), Illinois.
Tausif explains that there will be a cash prize, scholarships, college sponsorships, companies giving holiday gifts as benefits for the families of children participating in Muslim Spelling Bee Competition.

University Islamic Financial (UIF ) is this year’s platinum sponsor for the event. “University Islamic Financial (UIF) is proud and honored to support 2013 Muslim Spelling Bee competition. As a premier Islamic Financing company is the US we support Businesses that add value to our community. TMA worldwide, organizers of Muslim Spelling Bee is one such company that we feel comfortable working with and supporting. Our mutual goal of community empowerment and education is achieved by these type of ventures. UIF is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor this year and hopefully for many more years to come.” – Aijaz Hussain, Vice President National Sales, UIF Corp.

Muslim Spelling Bee would like to thank the sponsors and media sponsors for their support - Comcast, Iqra Foundation, A1 Tax, Al Hikmat TV, Al Jumuah Magazine, Asian Lite, Azizah Magazine, Desi Express, Dinar Standard, Dunya, Indian Express USA, Indian Muslim Observer, Infocus California, Islamic Focus South Africa, Islamic Post, Lone Star Crescent, Muslim Coupon, Muslim Backyard, Muslim Digest, My Education Key, My Halal Kitchen, News Pakistan, New York Awam, Pakistan Chronicle & Pakistan Journal, Pakistan Post, Pakistan Times & South Asian Gazette, Pakistan Express, Pakistan Voice, Radio Sargam/News Pakistan, Radio Sohni Dharti, Sadaa-e-Pakistan, Saavn.com, The Desi Times, Tribune Asia, TV ONE GLOBAL, Urdu Times Chicago, Urdu Times, Ummah Design & Ummah Linked.
The event will be broadcasted on TV ONE GLOBAL and other ethnic channels.
If you are interested in getting involved in the Muslim Spelling Bee, please visit www.muslimspellingbee.com.

For more information, please call:

Tausif Malik
Founder Director
Cell: 773.536.9786
Media: media@muslimspellingbee.com
www.muslimspellingbee.com

Why Israel seeks Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas removal?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas who succeeded Yasser Arafat has been favorite of Israel and its western fascist masters. US-Israel terror twins conveniently employed Abbas to pursue their joint agenda inside Palestine and Mideast at large. Vivid outcome of this secret Israel-US-Abbas nexus has been the civil war between Fatah and Hamas party people and separation of West Bank and Gaza Strip inside Palestine and persisting mutual hatred among Palestinians.
That is a major victory for the enemy of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims in general. Abbas thus has been sure bet for Israel in its effort to destroy Palestinians. However, now Abbas is not appreciated by US-Israel terror twins for his push for state hood via UN General assembly, bypassing Israeli bogus talks and UNSC terror veto.

Even as President Mahmoud Abbas plans to submit a request to the UN General Assembly on 29 November to get it approval for an elevated non-member observer state, Israel's foreign ministry proposes "toppling" President Mahmoud Abbas if Palestine's bid for UN non-member state status is approved. Abbas, who is chairman of the PLO and president of the Palestinian Authority, wants Palestine to be admitted as a non-member observer state based on the boundaries which existed before Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip during the 1967 war.

Possibly soon after the recent Gaza attack, killing hundreds of innocent Palestinians, Israel has quickly decided to prepare an interim document for an informal Palestine state. Obviously the move is meant to upset the PLO move for UN upgrade that would officially allow the besieged Palestinians to make a formal complaint to international judiciaries against Israeli crimes.
Currently, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the umbrella group which represents most Palestinian factions and conducts negotiations with Israel, only has "permanent observer" status at the UN.

Israel wants to remove Abbas as punishment for the UN route if Palestine unilateral UN bid went ahead. Obviously, the Israeli regime wants Palestinians keep talking endlessly with Israeli leadership without results and to abide by Israeli law and freedom restrictions on them. Abbas move for unstoppable non-member state status for Palestine has irked US-Israel terror twins.
An internal document of the foreign ministry says it is "the only option" if deterrence efforts do not succeed, despite the consequences. It also suggests that the Palestinians should be offered immediate recognition of statehood within provisional borders as an incentive to drop their UN bid.

The Israeli position paper, a copy of which has been obtained by the BBC, is intended for use in internal discussions and has not been endorsed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. However, Lieberman was quoted last week by Israeli Channel 10 TV as saying he would ensure that the Palestinian Authority "collapses" if its unilateral UN bid went ahead. He has also in the past described Abbas, who is also known as Abu Mazen, as an "obstacle that needs to be removed".

The document adds that reality of a Palestinian state recognized by the UN is a "unilateral step” that would crush Israeli deterrence, completely undermine its credibility and make any future peace deal that could be acceptable to Israel impossible. Israeli position is even though this would not be a simple step to take because Israel would have to pay the consequences, toppling Abu Mazen's regime is the only option in such a case.

The paper recommends that if the Palestinians commit to not take any unilateral steps, Israel "must reach a peace deal with them" to create a "state along provisional borders, during a transition period - until the stabilization of the Arab world, new elections in the Palestinian Authority, and a clarification of the relations between the West Bank and Gaza".

The Palestinian state, Israel now claims, would be based in Area A of the West Bank, where Palestinians would have control over security and civilian matters, and Area B, where Palestinians would have control over civilian issues alone- not security.

Israel fears once Palestinians obtain statehood under Abbas without support of US-Israel terror twins, he would be able to gather and bring together both factions.

The position paper states that the "main goal of the State of Israel" is to deter the Palestinians from unilaterally seeking non-member observer state status at the UN, which should be seen as "crossing a red line that will require the harshest Israeli response". Israel says that if deterrence efforts do not succeed, Israel must extract a heavy price from Abu Mazen, ie Abbas.

Israel is a fanatic bluff master that prolongs its occupation of Palestine, terrorize Palestinians with terror blockades, killing them in a sustained manner with protection from western terrocratic powers. It appears by announcing an early Palestine state, Zionist and their American fathers are trying an old trick with Palestinians of somehow dissuading them for the time being from taking the legal UN route for statehood. They still hope Abbas would play Zionist card after some usual gimmicks.

Because once Palestine obtains freedom - it is sure to get the UN non-member state status - Israeli criminals cannot continue attacking the Palestinians as often as they have been doing for years now.

Otherwise, the UN non-member state status does not change the real status of Palestinians as being besieged slaves.

[Dr. Abdul Ruff is Specialist on State Terrorism;Chancellor-Founder of Centor for International Affairs(CIA); Independent Analyst;Chronicler of Foreign occupations & Freedom movements (Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc.). He is also former university Teacher. He can be contacted at abdulruff_jnu@yahoo.com]

Malala: Classrooms over caves

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Rushdi Siddiqui

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” — Mahatma Gandhi.

When the first lady of a Muslim country talks about education for girls, it’s not only expected, but, many believe there is an agenda behind it.

When the education minister talks about education for girls, there is a collective yawn, as subsequent important questions on language (English?), budget (decreasing?), etc, are the details rarely discussed at photo-ops.

When a tycoon (or his wife) talks about education for girls, it’s more credible and believable, but some may believe it’s “easing the conscience”.

When a poor 15-year-old activist from Pakistan, Malala Yousufzai, preaches and propagates education for girls and women’s rights, well, her message was welcomed, on October 9, with a bullet to the head by a fellow “Muslim”.

(By the grace of the Almighty, she, at time of this writing, is in London and recovering.)

Suddenly, her cause becomes a universal cause:

● UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon declared November 10 Malala Day.
● Gordon Brown, former PM of Britain and now UN Special Envoy for Global Education, launched a slogan, I am Malala, with a petition demanding all children worldwide be in school by 2016.

While declarations are incident-time important, are they lasting?

Dark shame’s light

The dark shame of the tragedy is that it takes the bang of a “bullet” to get her message heard around the world, and the life-threatening context to appreciate the situation of girls and women within provinces of Muslim countries like Pakistan.

At one level, Malala is a civil rights leader, her cause being education, and she can be mentioned, notwithstanding her tender age, in the same breath as other revered leaders like the Reverend Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, their cause being equality and dignity.
Their blood has stained our collective conscience as education and equality are divinely ordained. They are the foundational and fundamental principles linked to dignity, justice, public good and opportunity.

The election and re-election of the harvest called President Barack Obama started with the seed sown in the 1960s by King. The election of Mayawati, a Dalit (untouchable), as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, in caste-bias India, deemed a “miracle of democracy”, is the eventual by-product of Gandhi’s message.

Her message

So, what is the takeaway message of Malala?

First, there are more brain cells than bullets being fired, hence, Malala represents a journey of enduring enlightenment over engaging violence. The “miracle of youth” is the message of truth rises to the top, and, conversely, the propaganda of “misleading truths” sinks to the bottom.
Second, studies by the international lending agencies on the benefits of education for girls to the family, village, county, province and country are indisputable. The educational empowerment of girls means, as, mothers and wives, their off-springs will do better than them, i.e. virtuous cycle on way to having an eventual middle class based on merit. This is the beginning of a knowledge-based economy that governments talk about for 2020 and 2030.
Third, her message (education) is consistent with the proclamation of the Creator and the (carried) message of the beloved Prophet Mohammad (SAW):

The first revelation of the Quran, Surah Alaq: “Read! In the Name of your Lord created. He has created man from clod. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not.”

The Creator’s message is for all of humanity, and not just men, to obtain knowledge, be it on the mind, tongue, writing or actions, and, just as important, to disseminate.

“And Say: My Lord increase me in knowledge.” (20:114)

The natural inclination of human beings, young or old, is curiosity-cum-learning, including secular and spiritual, from “cradle to the grave”. The knowledge results in wisdom to make informed or good choices.

“Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim (male and female).” — Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 74.

“Who ever seeks a way to acquire knowledge, Allah will make his way to paradise.” — Sahih Muslim, 2699.

Fourth, those who seek to spread the rotten seeds of a strategy and message built on decline, death and destruction, they have soon realised their own kin and kith have disconnected and distanced themselves from the rhetoric. To the leaders brainwashing such minds, let’s apply the podium test: meaning, come out from your cracks, and present your evidence and ideology (text in context) of hate and exclusiveness about Islam or any religion to the court of public opinion.

It’s well known by (all) Muslims, there are 99 names (attributes) of the Creator, from which 99 Islamic super-heroes were created, and they showcase and highlight the mercy, beneficence and compassionate attributes of the Creator. What happened to man’s mercy, beneficence and compassion towards fellow humans?

Today, there are more Muslims killed and maimed by other Muslims, and usually in the name of religion. The religion of peace is manipulated for self-serving selected wars of, say, gender repression, be it education, driving, etc.

The Education Malala Index

In Qatar, there is an initiative, led by Sheika Mozah binti Nasser Al Missned, called Education City, and it aims “to be the centre of educational excellence in the (GCC) region...” Concurrently, in the spirit of Malala’s education message for girls, it now needs to be translated into a legacy building index, as it’s part of human development.

If we look at the world of indices/indexes, it allows for benchmarking, accountability, and transparency; be it in the capital markets with, say, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA). Its mere mention conjures up performance and the pulse of the capital markets.

In taking the concept of indices/indexes to another area, education in the Muslim world, can we start the process of capturing the pulse/health of the two most important areas; education and women? The former, education, is the foundation for economic mobility and empowerment of a family, and the latter, girls/women, is the foundation of the family.

We can look at different Muslim countries in terms of not human, but humane, capital development as (1) least developed, (2) less developed and (3) emerging.

The methodology for creating The Education Malala Index (TEMI) is to (1) get everyone on the same page and (2) measure the government’s progress/regress with a benchmark. The methodology, customised to above (1 to 3), will avoid the one fits all category, hence, providing insight on what is working and what is not. The weighting schemes, including budgets for schools (emphasis on primary and secondary), classroom content/language, etc, will show the influence of the attributes.

This research will allow development agencies and governments to better allocate resources and direct capital to its most productive uses. Furthermore, some enterprising financial engineer may make the TEMI into an asset class via an investable instrument off of the index.

Conclusion

There is a bit of Malala in all of us. However, to move out of default inertia, we must have the courage to bring it out and the motivation to do something about it.

To be inspired, one must reflect on our mirror reflection, and, ask: “What do you see?”
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world — that is the myth of the atomic age — as in being able to remake ourselves.” — Mahatma Gandhi.
The Noble Peace Prize was awarded to Obama early in his first term for his accomplishment, being elected as the first black president of the US.

Now, imagine if the same Nobel Committee had similar foresight and awarded Malala Yousufzai the Peace Prize for fighting for girls’ education in the Muslim world. Indeed, it would send a powerful, pioneering and supportive message for girls’ education and those extremists opposed to it!

That is win-win!

(Courtesy: The Malaysian Insider)

World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

By Susan Yasin

Cairo: Depicting the effects of the current world events on the Muslim world, an annual list of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims has appeared to help people understand the different ways Islam and Muslims impact the world today.

“This publication sets out to ascertain the influence some Muslims have on this community, or on behalf of the community,” the book chief editor Abdallah Schleifer, professor emeritus at the American University in Cairo, wrote in the book’s introduction.

“The influence can be of a religious scholar directly addressing Muslims and influencing their beliefs, ideas and behavior, or it can be or a ruler shaping the socio-economic factors within which people live their lives,” he added.

The Muslim 500: The 500 Most Influential Muslims 2012, the fourth list in this series started in 2009 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISSC) in Amman.

The report is issued annually in cooperation with Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at George Town University in the United States.

The book starts with an overall top 50 influential Muslims list, and then surveys the remaining 450 most prominent Muslims in 15 categories, from politics to religion, media, arts, science and development, but without ranking.

The top ten spots are all occupied with political and religious leaders.

Topping the list as the most influential Muslim in the world for the second consecutive year, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz, the custodian of the two Holy Mosques, was named as the most influential Muslim in 2012.

He was followed by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as No.2.
Erdogan advance gave him advantage over Morocco’s King Mohammed VI who took the third place.

Fourth place went to Dr Mohammed Badie the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose name appeared in the top 10 for the first time.

He is followed by Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani who took the fifth place.
Sheikh Al-Azhar Dr. Ahmad Al-Tayeb and prominent Islamic scholar Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi who is President of Global Association of Muslim Scholars, also made it to the top 10 ranks.
The RISSC is an independent research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought.

The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought is an international Islamic non-governmental, independent institute headquartered in Amman, the capital of the Kingdom of Jordan.
This publication is part of an annual series that provides a window into the movers and shakers of the Muslim world.

It gives valuable insight into the different ways that Muslims impact the world and also shows the diversity of how people are living as Muslims today.

(Courtesy: OnIslam.net)

Islamic banking is a myth; RBI is right to reject it

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

By R Jagannathan

Reserve Bank Governor D Subbarao has done well to reject the idea of Islamic banking in India. Though he has left a window open in case the government makes legislative changes to enable Islamic banking, he also seemed to suggest that Islam’s injunctions can be met not through banking, but other financial options.

He said: “Islamic banking is not possible. There are some legal problems. We have studied the issue. We appreciate the objectives behind the request. But there are some legal problems. It can be got around not through banking, but other vehicles.”

He’s partly right. But the fact is even he is partly wrong. Islamic banking is not possible even though an enabling legislation, for the whole idea is a myth and cannot be introduced in a country where normal banking exists, and which claims to be secular.

To create a legislation which allows no interest to be paid or received would mean subjecting ordinary savers to enormous risks – which surely cannot be the intention of Islamic banking. If Islamic banks cannot invest in bonds, T-bills, and commercial paper, or lend to finance inventory or projects for interest, it defeats the whole purpose of banking.

Even in Muslim countries, what is called Islamic banking is – to put it in the dismissive words of one western critic – “normal banking sprinkled with holy water.” At best, Islamic banking is a way to deny the existence of interest and make it easier for Muslims to accept the idea of banking since the Koran includes strong injunctions against the giving or taking of “riba” – interest.

Before we explain why Islamic banking is a myth, let’s understand something basic about money and investment. There are only two basic forms of saving or investing – equity and debt. If you give somebody money and the borrower is not expected to pay interest, but only share profits, you are investing in equity. If the borrower is expected to pay interest, it is debt.

There can be hybrid instruments that are part equity and part debt, but since the objection is to avoid interest-bearing debt, hybrids need not be considered Islamic instruments at all. The only exception would be zero-interest bearing convertible bonds; if Islamists are happy with them, maybe Indian companies should offer more of such instruments. There would be no need to invent Islamic banking.

Let’s understand, equity is risk. The returns are priced based on the risk undertaken. Debt is meant to avoid risk, and is the price payable for the time value of money.

Why did the Prophet of Islam forbid interest-based banking? I am no expert on Islam or the Koran, but taking a commonsense view of his intentions, it is likely that he did not want usury – he didn’t want rich moneylenders to fleece the poor.

In its intended form, Islamic banking as advocated by the Prophet would be close to venture capital or even a mutual fund – where the investor earns nothing if his money makes a business loss. He gets a share of profit or dividends if the venture or underlying investment makes a profit.

Now consider what an Islamic bank would have to do if it were to take Koranic ideas to their logical end: since a bank’s primary purpose is to bring savers and investors to a common platform, an Islamic bank would have to invite depositors to take up equity. An Islamic bank would thus have an ever-expanding equity base, reduced occasionally whenever it has to write down equity to write off losses. Depositors should thus get dividends, whenever the business makes a profit.

On the borrowing side, since the funds do not carry interest, the borrower would have to declare his profits and share it with the bank in some predetermined manner.

In theory, this is fine. But in practice, this is simply not viable when both depositors and borrowers have alternatives.

If I am a depositor, and the bank tells me it may or may not give me a return, I have a choice: if I don’t want to take a risk, I would opt for a traditional bank which promises me a clear return at no risk. Very few people, even Muslims, may want to take this risk, unless theologians frighten them enough with hell and damnation.

If I am a borrower, why would I agree to share a proportion of my profits unless they are so low that borrowing from a normal bank would be costlier? In fact, only projects that are inherently losers would want to take money from an Islamic bank.

In practice, thus, few people would bank with an Islamic bank when they have other options and are not forced by religious-minded clerics to shun normal banks.

In the real world, Islamic banks have to compete with normal banks. They thus create instruments which mirror the returns that are close to current market interest rates in order to retain business. They are thus pulling wool over the eyes of true believers where interest will be disguised as dividend, and borrowing as purchase of assets by the bank. A loan returned would be classified as the repurchase of the same asset by the same person or company.

In a paper by Dr Nimrod Raphaeli produced for the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri), he quotes a Kuwaiti banker as saying that conventional banks are more straightforward than Islamic banks. In an article titled “The non-usury deception”, the Kuwaiti banker, Ahmad Al-Sarraf, quotes a cleric, Prof Hamid Al-’Ali, as saying that “Islamic banks disguise usury by inventing documents that appear on the surface as sales documents, but that are actually interest-bearing loans. Therefore, anyone who distinguishes between traditional and Islamic banks is ignorant.”

Raphaeli’s paper quotes Al-Sarraf as saying that “most of the Islamic banks are guided by well-paid clerics who are employed by the bank, and issue rulings according to the bank’s needs. The entire corpus of paperwork created by these Islamic banks, Al-Sarraf concludes, is in violation of the rules of the sharia and is inherently deceptive.”

In India, the Bombay Stock Exchange has a Shariah Index where the leading stock is Reliance with a weight of 18 percent. Reliance, which is one of the biggest cash-generating machines in India, invests a huge amount of its funds in interest-bearing deposits and securities – and it is supposed to be Shariah-complaint. Tata Consultancy, which also has surplus cash and invests in bank deposits, is another top member of the Shariah index.

Clearly, Islamic investment and banking are little more than fig-leaves to give Muslims an excuse to adopt relabelled normal banking.

Wonder if the Prophet would have liked such deceptive practices. Wouldn’t Muslims be better off accepting normal banking in a secular country?

Islamic banking is a bad idea intended to fool Muslims. Only a government trying to woo a sectarian vote would even think of legislating such a law. The RBI Governor should tell the government this is no uncertain terms.

(Courtesy: Firstpost.com)

Adapting Islam hospitality business could generate 149,000 million in 2020

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

Experts predict that it becomes a profitable future business

Madrid: The growth in tourism has led Muslim in recent years that the hotels that meet Islamic standards have increased exponentially occupation, by adapting their services to the teachings and principles of Islam and Islamic law, and forecasts is this a business tourism generates more than 149,000 million in 2020.

With an estimated world population of 1,800 million, Muslims have become an objective fashion world tourism industry who have worked to build hotels and restaurants 'halal' or even adapt prayer rooms in airports religious needs.

The hotels 'halal' (permissible in Arabic) does not serve alcohol, menus offer certified 'halal', women-specific facilities, prayer rooms and, in general, a welcoming environment for Muslim tourists.

During Ramadan last year, the famous Hotel Sacher in Vienna, Austria , ordered specific facilities for prayer and special meals before dawn ('sahur') and sunset ('iftar').

Also other facilities such as the luxurious Lord Milner in London or chain Holiday Villa Hotel, have adjusted installing an indication signal 'Qibla' in their rooms.
New profitable business.

As the Muslim population with high purchasing power is increasing in Muslim majority countries and particularly in Western Europe and the United States, experts predict that tourism halal become a profitable future business.

According to a study by U.S. consultancy Dinar Standard, Muslims in 2011 spent $ 126,000 million (nearly 98,000 million) in travel and the forecast is to reach 192,000 million (149,000 million euros) in 2020.

The founder and CEO of Crescentrating, Fazal Bhardeen, ratings organization that hotels and airports according to how they fit the needs of Muslims, explains that this type of tourism is very profitable because tourists 'halal' traveling large family groups remain in the place they choose a while and spend more.

Hotels Worldwide

So far the favorite destinations have been predominantly Muslim-majority countries such as Egypt, Malaysia and Turkey. However, other non-Islamic sites as Australia have recently joined the list of countries pro-Islamic tourism.

In Dubai, where hotel groups have announced the development of hotel chains that comply with Islamic law. Almulla Hospitality plans to open 150 hotels by 2015 Halal, not only in the Middle East but also in Europe and North America.

Also, the hotel chain is proposed Jawhara implanted in 25% of its stores in Dubai adequate services for them to be fully compatible with the precepts laid down in Islamic law or Sharia.
Even these hotels devote 2.5% of their net profit as 'zakat', the solidarity surcharge or Islamic alms is considered obligatory for every Muslim adult income.

But interest in this model of tourism extends beyond the companies located in the Muslim-majority countries. Headquartered in Zurich, Kempinski, plans to build by 2015 about 30 hotels in collaboration with the Islamic Advisory Consultant, Financial Group. Under the brand Shaza will open hotels in North Africa, the Gulf region and Europe.

Best Western, and provides Halal hotels in Malaysia, Bahrain and Oman, and plans to open more hotels in the coming years. The Rezidor Hotel Group, based in Brussels, which operates brands such as Radisson SAS and Park Inn, has estimated that the hotel market support the 'Shariah' grow around 20% per year over the next decade.

Tourism 'halal' is also a cultural tourism. So as Islamic Travels agencies offer "explore the ummah" , ie travel to countries marked by an Islamic tradition, to meet people and live among Muslims. The trips are organized according to religious moments, like the five daily prayers, Friday prayers and Ramadan.

(Courtesy: EuropaPress.es)

Of beards and hijab

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 24 November 2012 | Posted in , , , , , , , ,

By Rushdi Siddiqui

A colleague once asked: “How come, as a Muslim man, you don’t grow a ‘traditional’ beard?” I replied: “... thanks for informing me, but don’t impose upon me... “

As a Muslim layman trying to better understand the deen, “way of life”, of Islam, I, like many others, have more questions than answers. Many of the questions are based upon observations, conversations with inquiring minds, and the desire to get closer to the Creator.

It’s well accepted that the collective intelligence-cum-knowledge of the informed public (ijma, consensus of the Muslim community) is far more superior than any one member’s. Thus, in “e-thinking out loud” dialogue, debate, and discussions that raise the civilised conversation bar higher on the linkage between beards and hijab are hoped for.

However, there are many who may be “concerned”, i.e., from personal attacks to sentences to hell, when asking challenging questions about the headline. Surely, a religion of peace, as explained repeatedly to the West, cannot tolerate a climate of fear for asking difficult questions.

Maybe it’s the Muslims? Query: does asking questions pose a threat to the incumbent’s “chair”? Asking questions is how we obtain information-translated-knowledge and wisdom, and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has challenged us to seek knowledge; from cradle to grave.

Thus, all of us, at one time, have to become the “voice of the voiceless”, “hope for the helpless”, and remind (the forgetting) that we are here to “inform and not impose.”

Folks, Islam is about substance and not show and chairs.

Interfaith beards?

Almost all religions and way of life espouse middle-of-the-road modesty, be it in appearance, attitude or approach. And, it is that modesty which allows such “way of life and living” to not only survive, but thrive over centuries.

In Islam, the Creator prescribes moderation as the ideal way in our dealings, and Prophet Mohammad encouraged Muslims to shun both extremes and to be moderate in every facet of life.

Pickthall: Thus we have appointed you a middle nation. 2.143

Yusuf Ali: Thus, have we made of you an Ummat justly balanced. 2.143

If we look at clergy from Islam, Judaism, (eastern orthodox) Christianity, Hinduism and so on, we find the men have a common trait: a beard. In Islam, we find several hadiths speaking about the beloved Prophet Muhammad concerning the “beard”. Below are equivalent translations:

● Aayesha (RA) narrates that Nabi (SAW) has said: “Ten things are fitrat (natural). To cut the moustache and lengthen the beard (are from amongst these ten things).” Muslim Vol 1 page 129

● Abu Huraira (RA) quotes the Holy Prophet (SAW) as saying, “Shorten the moustache and lengthen the beard.” (Muslim)

● Ibn Umar (RA) quotes the Holy Prophet (SAW) as saying, “Cut short the moustache and lengthen the beard.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Thus, a common sight in the MENASA countries (Middle East, North Africa and South Asia) is generally men with beards, from chest long to fashionably groomed. In Islamic finance, we find the syariah scholars with a cross section of beards, also from (some have stated) bird’s nest long to impeccably groomed to goatees.

In examining the (male) leaders of the 57 Muslim countries, we find many with trimmed beards (the UAE, Afghanistan, Egypt, Oman, etc), goatees, (Saudi Arabia, Brunei, etc.), moustaches (Malaysia, Turkey, Bahrain, Kuwait, etc) or clean shaven.

[Confession: I have a floating goatee, sometimes a goatee, sometimes a trimmed beard, and sometimes clean shaven, however, the focus for me, and many others, is on being a goodwill ambassador for Islam via substantive conduct.]

Obviously, there are certain ethnicities that cannot grow beards. Is it because of geography/climate-influenced DNA? For those ethnicities, say, the Chinese, or those in Malaysia, Indonesia and various parts of Africa who cannot grow a “full beard”, facial hair, the prohibition may be seen as “not to shave the ‘beard’?”

The beard

The following questions are from a compilation of conversations over time:

● Is a beard supposed to convey modesty and morality?

● Is a beard supposed to cover?

● Is a beard supposed to send a signal?

● In having a beard, does it imply certain other behaviours must be consistently aligned or code of [divine] ethics followed, including following the second most important pillar of Islam, establishing regular prayers?

● If a Muslim man can grow a beard and chooses not to grow one or shaves an existing beard, then, what?

● Can family, friend, colleagues impose upon a male to grow a beard or rather not shave?

● Typically, if the man has a beard, then his wife/wives wear hijab/abaya. But, what if the wife/wives have hijab/abaya and the man does not have a beard or refuses to grow one, then what?

After the haj, we see many Haji (men) growing beards, but within a short period of time some/many revert to pre-haj grooming habits and, sometimes, routines. Why?

Hijab

There are three levels of hijab, according to the important treatise by Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani (Rehmatullah) which he called Tafsilal-Khitab fi Tafsir Ayat al-Hijab, which is a section from his Ahkam al-Qur’an (3:393-483):

● Hijab of the persons (ashkhas) of women in houses and walls, private quarters and howdahs, whereby foreign men do not see any part of their persons, garments or external or internal adornment, or any part of their body, including the face, the hands and the remainder of the body.

● Hijab with burqa’ and jilbab, whereby nothing from the face and hands, the rest of the body and the clothing of adornment are shown, and so nothing is seen besides their concealed persons from above the head to the foot.

● Hijab with jilbabs and items of clothing that resemble them, while exposing the face, the hands and the feet.

Thus, to the ill-informed the hijab represents a symbol of repression and conspiracy to keep the Muslim woman “barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen”, and to others it represents a symbol of freedom (life, pro-choice), style and modesty (inward to outside). Thus, provocation associated with the hijab is in the eye of the beholder and their agenda.

Much like a Muslim man growing a beard (or not shaving), many girls and women wear a hijab in the Muslim and non-Muslim world (at times more challenging), and it has worked well. However, flare-ups against Muslims by the ignorant few (stirred by select media), especially against those representing “symbols” of Islam, typically arise when there are acts or near acts of terrorism on Western soil.

However, the mighty dollar over-rides. For example, France declared itself to be an Islamic finance hub to tap the oil surplus liquidity, yet the veil/hijab is not only a politically charged issue among politicians, but has risen to become a national security issue.

Pressures

One of the common observations encountered is when a school-aged girl is “pressured” by family to wear a hijab in the non-Muslim world or a woman (after the haj) is “strongly suggested” to wear a hijab by family members.

For career women, even in the Muslim world, does wearing a hijab jeopardise career opportunities for promotions and progression? It is well-documented that women are under-represented, as proportionate of population, at senior management positions, including board representation. Thus, is it fair to put forth the choice between religion (as represented by a non-pillar of Islam, hijab) and career?

What about Muslim women leaders of the recent past; have they worn a hijab? Well, their interpretation of the hijab is influenced by national culture; the late Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan), Tansu Ciller (Turkey), Sheikh Hasina (Bangladesh), etc. Even former first ladies either did not wear a hijab or made the hijab a fashion statement, like Suzanne Mubarak of Egypt, Queen Noor of Jordan (wife of the late King Hussein), Sh Moza al Misned of Qatar (second wife of the Emir of Qatar). The common denominator among most of these women was their leadership was defined by conduct, whether one agrees or disagrees with their political views is a conversation for another day.

The question then becomes, should there be compulsion (for an adult woman) to wear a hijab when they have never worn a hijab? Islam clearly prohibits forced conversions, “... there is no compulsion in religion ...” (2:256). Then, logically, does it follow that a Muslim cannot force (by pressure, be it subtle, familial, etc) another (adult Muslim) to wear a hijab or grow a beard?

Where is the free will we often hear about? It is well accepted that religion is a private matter, between you and the Creator, and when the heart (intention) is ready the rest (body) will follow, i.e., it is about choices with understood consequences.

Again, Islam is about substance and not show.

Conclusion

Now, if we insert hijab where beard is mentioned above, does it change the dimension of the answer? Should it change the answer?

Sometimes, I wonder if we emphasise, by way of heated debates at times, too much on the pressure to wear a hijab (for non-hijab wearing women) instead of the five pillars of Islam. Yes, each has a certain conversation air-time.

I always believed as man/woman are the most perfect creation of the Creator, our job is to inform and not impose. As imposing implies judgment, and that job is already taken, correct?

“No more is the Apostle bound to do than deliver the Message (entrusted to him). And God knows all that you do openly, and all that you would conceal.” (Quran 5:99, translated by Mohammad Asad).

Are some of us (with incumbent chairs) error prone in following the “subjective interpretation and selective enforcement” school of thought? Can it be said that some have become “self-righteous religious” and regard all those who do not subscribe to our ideas, as lesser beings?

The Creator commands us to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. Thus, are such people, by inducing fear (perceived or actual), overstepping the authority given to us by Him by humiliating and hurting the feelings of those who see and interpret things differently?
When we speak about inter-faith dialogue, we are moving the conversation away from conversion to convergence.

We also need to have intra-faith dialogue on informing versus imposing.

(Courtesy: The Malaysian Insider)

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