How fruit trees in Indian village save girls' lives

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 11 October 2013 | Posted in , , , ,

[This article which I happened to see lately is being republished in public interest. Originally published by BBC on 15th June 2010, this article might have been missed by many. Foeticide and Dowry are two issues of concern in India and the subcontinent. The writer Amarnath Tewary has appropriately addressed the issue highlighting environmental concerns as well. This is absolutely an excellent example of how Indians can come forward to tackle their own problems in a meaningful and pragmatic way. Let's all Indians pledge to save our girl child and save our environment too. Let's all, irrespective of caste, creed and religion, plant trees in a big way to celebrate the birth of a girl child and pursue the path shown by the people of Bihar's Dharhara village. -- Danish Ahmad Khan, Founder-Editor, IndianMuslimObserver.com]

By Amarnath Tewary

Bhagalpur, Bihar: In India, where traditionally boys have been preferred over girls, a village in backward Bihar state has been setting an example by planting trees to celebrate the birth of a girl child.

In Dharhara village, Bhagalpur district, families plant a minimum of 10 trees whenever a girl child is born.

And this practice is paying off.

Nikah Kumari, 19, is all set to get married in early June. The would-be groom is a state school teacher chosen by her father, Subhas Singh.

Mr Singh is a small-scale farmer with a meagre income, but he is not worried about the high expenses needed for the marriage ceremony.

For, in keeping with the village tradition, he had planted 10 mango trees the day Nikah was born.

The girl - and the trees - were nurtured over the years and today both are grown up.

Dowry deaths

"Today that day has come for which we had planted the trees. We've sold off the fruits of the trees for three years in advance and got the money to pay for my daughter's wedding," Mr Singh told the BBC.

"The trees are our fixed deposits," he said.

In Bihar, payment of dowry by the bride's family is a common practice. The price tag of the bridegroom often depends on his caste, social status and job profile.

The state is also infamous for the maximum number of dowry deaths in the country.

But the mango trees have freed Nikah's parents of undue worries. And their story is not unique in Dharhara village.

With a population of a little over 7,000, the village has more than 100,000 fully grown trees, mostly of mango and lychee.

From a distance, the village looks like a forest or a dense green patch amidst the parched and arid cluster of villages in the area.

'Great value'

And most residents can be spotted sitting in the cool orchards outside their homes.

"Now, we've stopped doing traditional farming of wheat and paddy. We plant as many trees as we can since they are more profitable and dependable," said villager Shyam Sunder Singh.

Mr Singh paid for the weddings of his three daughters after selling fruits of trees he had planted at the time of their birth.

"One medium-size mango orchard is valued at around 200,000 rupees ($4,245; £2,900) every season. These trees have great commercial value and they are a big support for us at the time of our daughter's marriage," he says.

The villagers say they save a part of the money earned through the sale of fruits every year in a bank account opened in their daughter's name.

The tree-planting has been going on in the village for generations now.

"We heard about it from our fathers and they from their fathers. It has been in the family and the village from ages," says Subhendu Kumar Singh, a school teacher.

"This is our way of meeting the challenges of dowry, global warming and female foeticide. There has not been a single incident yet of female foeticide or dowry death in our village," he says.

His cousin, Shankar Singh, planted 30 trees at the time of his daughter Sneha Surabhi's birth.

Sneha, four, is aware that her father has planted trees in her name; the child says she regularly waters the saplings.

As yet she doesn't know what dowry is, and says the trees will bear fruits for her "to eat".

The village's oldest resident, Shatrughan Prasad Singh, 86, has planted around 500 mango and lychee trees in his 25 acres of land.

His grand-daughters, Nishi and Ruchi, are confident the trees mean their family will have no problem paying for their weddings.

"The whole world should emulate us and plant more trees," says their father Prabhu Dayal Singh.

(Courtesy: BBC)

Prophetic Parenting

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 07 June 2013 | Posted in , ,

By Tanya Abassi

Anas ibn Malik was a young boy when he had the honour of serving the Prophet (peace be upon him) and it is narrated from him that during his ten years of service, never did the Prophet (peace be upon him) say a word of impatience or question why he had, or had not done something. A child is bound to err at times but to bear patiently whilst advising and guiding as opposed to constantly admonishing, will prove better inshā’Allāh. Making du‘ā for your children is also the prophetic way and it is reported that a parent’s du‘ā for his child is never rejected by Allah.

Striking the right balance is always easier said than done. Unfortunately, with parenting the results of belonging to either extreme can be disastrous to a child. Being too suffocating can cause a child to suffer from low self-esteem or become rebellious at an older age, yetapathy with regards to a child’s life can lead to them looking in the wrong places or at the wrong people for attention and affection. Children need a role model: someone to look up to, to seek guidance from, to be there to support them through difficulties and to share their successes and who should be a better role model than the very people who are responsible for their upbringing?

As with every aspect of life, our noble Prophet (peace be upon him) has given us the perfect example of how that role model should be. The key qualities every parent should strive to attain are epitomised by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who has complete:

Love & Mercy: As we are all aware, his mercy is unparalleled and indeed, his treatment of children, and not just his own progeny, is an example to us all. The Prophet (peace be upon him) would kiss and embrace children often and he would take an active interest in their lives. For example, when the pet bird of the young Abu Umair died he went out of his way to try and make him laugh. Many parents struggle to give sufficient time to their children hence it is vital that any time spent together is pure quality. A combination of heartfelt playful activitycombined with loving conversation will provide security and comfort thereby ensuring healthy emotional development of a child.

Justice: Sadly, a common problem amongst parents is to favour one child over another. The Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded fairness in the treatment of one’s children as this helps to ensure they are equally dutiful to parents. Always praising one child, constantly comparing children, preferring sons to daughters or showering one with gifts at another’s expense are all prevalent issues with today’s parents. This must be avoided at all costs as it is dangerous to a child who may develop low self-esteem and in turn, an inferiority complex.

Patience: Anas ibn Malik was a young boy when he had the honour of serving the Prophet (peace be upon him) and it is narrated from him that during his ten years of service, never did the Prophet (peace be upon him) say a word of impatience or question why he had, or had not done something. A child is bound to err at times but to bear patiently whilst advising and guiding as opposed to constantly admonishing, will prove better inshā’Allāh. Making du‘ā for your children is also the prophetic way and it is reported that a parent’s du‘ā for his child is never rejected by Allah.

Trust: The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to play with Usama ibn Zayd as a child and at around 17 years of age he entrusted the boy with the momentous task of commanding the Muslim army against the Byzantine Empire. Despite his youth, he was given such immense responsibility.Parents should not be afraid to trust or rely on their children according to their capabilities. A child wants to be trusted and a good way a parent may show they can trust them, is by making them a part of family decisions. By asking their opinion and including them in important discussions a child will feel they are an important part of the family unit which can pave the way to strengthening family ties.

Respect: Whenever the Prophet (peace be upon him) was visited by his youngest daughter, Lady Fatima, he would stand to welcome her when she entered the room, take her by the hand, kiss her and make him sit where he was sitting. Conversely, she would do the same when he visited her.These beautiful acts, though simple, show the profound love and respect they held for each other. Respecting your child is so important and it must not be forgotten that respect also includes keeping a child’s secrets confidential as well as not humiliating them publicly.

Practising these simple yet important qualities can prove effective in building a strong relationship with your child and, along with fulfilling the rights of your child, should help to ensure a healthy and happy family.
Notes: Tanya Abbasi writes on behalf of 1st Ethical Charitable Trust who empower Muslims to benefit society through faith based campaigns, thereby increasing social cohesion. For more information, please visit www.1stethical.com.

(Courtesy: Islam21c)

Far more Christian than Muslim migrants worldwide

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 13 March 2012 | Posted in , ,

By Tom Heneghan

Paris: Christians far outnumber Muslims as migrants around the world, including in the European Union where debates about immigration usually focus on new Muslim arrivals, according to a new study issued on Thursday.

Of the world's 214 million people who have moved from their home country to live in another, about 106 million (49%) are Christians while around 60 million (27%) are Muslims, the study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life said.

Only 3.6 million Jews around the world have moved across international borders, the study said, but that is 25% of the world's Jewish population, by far the highest proportion on the move of any faith group.

"Many experts think that, on the whole, economic opportunities - better jobs and higher wages - have been the single biggest driver of international migration," it said.
"At the same time, religion remains a factor in some people's decisions to leave their countries of birth and their choices of where to go."

The study defined migrants as people living in another country in 2010 for over a year, including estimates of illegal immigrants and long-term refugees including Palestinians and their descendants.

"Perhaps contrary to popular perception,...Christian immigrants outnumber Muslim immigrants in the European Union as a whole," the report said, indirectly referring to far-right parties that have long campaigned against Muslim newcomers.

Of the 47 million migrants in the EU, 26 million (56%) are Christians, double the 13 million Muslim migrants, who make up only 27% of the total, it said.

The gap narrows when intra-EU migration - for example, Christian Greeks to Germany or French-born Muslims to Britain - is excluded, but Christians migrating from outside the EU still outnumber non-EU Muslim migrants by about 13 million to 12 million.

The United States is the leading destination for Christian migrants, who account for 32 million (74%) of its 43 million-strong foreign-born population. Two-thirds of them are from Latin America. "The United States has received about as many immigrants from Mexico alone (more than 12 million, including both legal immigrants and unauthorised ones) as any other nation has received from all sources combined," the study said. The US is also the world's top destination for Buddhists, many from Vietnam. "About five percent of US immigrants are Muslims, a much lower share than in Europe," it added.

Saudi Arabia is the top destination for Muslim migrants, mostly workers from other Arab countries, the Indian subcontinent, Indonesia and the Philippines. While nearly half of all Muslim migrants come from the Asia-Pacific region, the largest single group - over five million - is made up of migrants and their descendants from the Palestinian territories, the study said.

Israel takes in the most Jewish migrants, many of them from Russia and Ukraine, followed far behind by the US, Canada and Australia. The United Nations estimates that about three percent of the world's population are migrants.

"If the world's 214 million international migrants were counted as one nation, they would constitute the fifth most populous country on the globe, just behind Indonesia and ahead of Brazil," the study said.

(Courtesy: DNA, Mumbai)

Europe and Euro Crisis

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 28 June 2011 | Posted in , , ,

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

The simmering battle between USA and European Union on the worth of their respective currencies, dollar and Euro seems to be never ending, even though Washington is making all possible efforts to use NATO terror operations in Islamic world to bridge the gap that lies between them.

After prolonged Euro crisis and months of uncertainty, EU leaders at the EU summit in Brussels have finally agreed to appoint Italian Mario Draghi, who has worked at the World Bank and as an economics professor at Harvard, as the next president of the European Central Bank. The European Parliament and the ECB board had already given their approval to Draghi's appointment

Euro is costlier than an ever weakening dollar. The European Union, the world's largest economy, has 27 member states, 16 of which are on the common currency. Founded through a string of treaties beginning in the 1950s, the EU has developed its own economic, political and legal policies.

The euro, created with the aim of permanently uniting Europe, has become the greatest threat to the continent's future. A collapse of the monetary union would set Europe back by decades, dealing it a blow from which it might never recover, especially with Europe's position already threatened by the fast-growing Asian economies. Europe's politicians want to defend the euro at all costs, but are approving one bailout package after the next, hoping that the markets will settle down and the reforms will take hold.

Irresponsible real estate sharks, unscrupulous bankers and populist politicians had ruined the finances of many a EU country. When, as the outcome of a deliberate state move to boost inflation, the euro crisis started in Greece in October 2009, nobody had any idea how quickly or broadly it would spread -- or how difficult it would be to solve. In fact the state did not want to halt the process and by November, Greece's budget deficit had ballooned to 15.4 percent of GDP from a meager 3.7 percent before October. As a result, Greece is forced to put its budget under EU monitoring. Dramatic austerity measures are implemented in a bid to clean up the country's finances in the coming years. In March 2010, the first Greek austerity package was passed, Value-added tax raised by 2 percentage points, and salaries for civil servants are frozen. The size of annual savings is estimated to be roughly €4.8 billion ($6.8 billion). In May 2010, in a bid to prop up other financially ailing member states, the EU finance ministers and the IMF agree on a provisional safety net worth €750 billion to be in effect until 2013. In June, Greece plans a further raft of austerity and privatization measures. Meanwhile, the euro-zone countries, the ECB and the IMF argue about the structure and amount of future financial aid.

EU leaders gave their clearest sign yet that Greece will receive a second bailout in the coming weeks, on top of last year's €110 billion ($156 billion). If the rest of Europe abandons Greece, the crisis could spin out of control, spreading from one weak euro-zone country to the next. Investors would have no guarantees that Europe would not withdraw its support from Portugal or Ireland, if push came to shove, and they would sell their government bonds.

The European Central Bank (ECB), the guardian of the single currency has taken on billions of euros worth of risky securities as collateral for loans to shore up the banks of struggling nations. In the event of a bankruptcy or even a deferred payment, the ECB would be directly affected. Many Euro nations criticized the ECB's program of purchasing government bonds issued by ailing euro member states. The Bundesbank already decided to establish reserves for a total of €4.9 billion ($7 billion) to cover possible risks. The failure of a country like Greece, which would almost inevitably lead to the bankruptcy of a few Greek banks, would increase the bill dramatically, because the ECB is believed to have purchased Greek government bonds for €47 billion. Besides, by the end of April, the ECB had spent about €90 billion on refinancing Greek banks.

The ECB maintains a list of "eligible assets," a sort of seal of approval for securities. Every major bank in the euro zone must have such securities, such as bonds or government bonds, or it would be excluded from the money market. There are currently 28,708 securities on the ECB list, with a total value €14 trillion at the end of 2010.

The ECB is in a no-win situation now that it has become an enormous bad bank or, in other words, a dumping ground for bad loans. The ECB accepted so-called asset-backed securities (ABS) as collateral. At the beginning of the year, these securities amounted to €480 billion. It was precisely such asset-backed securities that once triggered the real estate crisis in the United States. Experts say these securities would deal a fatal blow to the European banking system.

Turkey is one of the top ranking economies of Europe, but not yet been admitted into EU as a legitimate member, while Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain are the weak euro countries. Surveys show that many Germans are worried about the future of the euro.

The central bank's high risk is highlighted in the crisis-ridden countries of Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Spain. Since the countries are disconnected from the international capital market and domestic savers have only limited confidence in their banks, other European central banks are forced to inject more and more money. Mortgage loans were bundled into packages worth billions, allowing the associated risks to be transferred to the international capital markets.

The euro welds together strong and weak countries, for better or for worse. There is no emergency exit, and there are no rules to follow in an emergency.

The euro is becoming an ever greater threat to Europe's common future. The currency union chains together economies that are simply incompatible. Politicians approve one bailout package after the other and, in doing so, have set down a dangerous path that could burden Europeans for generations

Regular ECB bailouts for banks pose serious problems and specialists insist that limits be imposed on the autonomy of national central banks when it comes to recognizing securities as collateral. The old euro no longer exists in its intended form, and the European Monetary Union isn't working. Draghi, the new boss of ECB, has big burden on his weak shoulders.

[Dr. Abdul Ruff is Specialist on State Terrorism. He is Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA). He is former university Teacher, Analyst in International Affairs and an Expert on Middle East. He can be contacted at abdulruff@gmail.com or on his Mobile # +91-9961868309]

Bad Taliban turns good Taliban

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 21 June 2011 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Abdul Hannan Siwani Nadvi

Taliban and Al qaeda are not alike; Alqaeda is the name of global Jihad; while Taliban is resisting within Afghanistan.

Security Council of United Nations split the list in which Taliban and Alqaeda were one. However, according to the new policy Taliban will now become a good Taliban. International community is ready to convert them from bad to good with passing of some resolutions in United Nations.

These above reports are hitting news channels and newspapers across the glob.

It is being said that these steps are being adopted to provide a platform to International community to establish relations with Taliban and convince them to start negotiations with United States so that Taliban be able to play a role in Afghanistan as well as help United States which wants to bring this unwinnable war to an end.

These developments are taking place because US wants to pull out its forces from Afghanistan which is a graveyard for emperors and arrogant powers.

How Taliban is turning from bad to good? Who made them bad? And, who are making them good?

How Taliban and Alqaeda are not same? How US, UN and International community arrived at this conclusion that Alqaeda is the part of global Jihad, while Taliban is fighting in Afghanistan only? How International community arrived at this conclusion that there is a need to understand the difference between Taliban and Alqaeda?

Eventually, it is the policy of US. This time US is waiting for a miracle to happen to save itself from this land, which has swallowed various powerful and unbroken emperors.

It has realized that its country, its forces and its minions have been stranded in this country, and all of them want to get out from this defiant country. Their economic condition is not allowing them to continue this war or open any new front in another country. That reason; this new trick is being played by US to first change the atmosphere globally about Taliban, and then it will be claimed that Taliban is a good people and US or others have no objection to resume the relation with it, so that US is able to get out from Afghanistan decently maintain its dignity too.

This was the same tactic used by US and its western allies to attack on Afghanistan. First; it is made clear that Taliban and Alqaeda have become a threat to International community, then western Media came into motion and propagated against Taliban, and one day United States lunched aerial strikes against Taliban in Afghanistan.

It was true; that attack was the violation of International agreement and was the attack on Afghanistan sovereignty, but who lessens?

Taliban never attacked on US, it never posed any threat to neighbor or western countries. Taliban had captured the control over Kabul after longest civil war. The trade of heroin had been reduced during Taliban government. UN report confirms it. Taliban established a best government in Afghanistan. They brought the violence and civil war to an end. The people of Afghanistan had been hoping a stable government there. The Ambassadors had been appointed by Taliban at that time they were not ordinary men. They were very well-educated and qualified persons. If International community gives them time to establish their positions, they establish that which kind of government Taliban wants and what they want from International community. However US and International community without giving them time to clear their positions, attacked on Afghanistan. Since then, what Taliban is doing in Afghanistan is the same thing which is being played by every patriotic person and movements.

Taliban is fighting and resisting to bring this occupation to an end. United States had gone there with its consent. Since then, Taliban had become bad Taliban. Supporting of Taliban, providing any help to this organization was the part of terrorism. Even the Muslims who spotted beard and veiled Muslim women attacked in entire glob and termed them Taliban. It is said that Talibanization will not be allowed at any rate.

Anti-Muslim movement appeared. Cartoons made on our Prophet Mohammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasalam. Charitable Islamic organizations blamed to help Taliban and Alqaeda.

A section of media in India propagated against Muslims and their religious institutions in the name of Taliban. Name of Taliban had become a symbol of terror which was being used to scare Muslims and keep none-Muslims away from embracing of Islam

It is said that Taliban is bringing bad name to Islam. It is said that Taliban is destroying Islamic values. Taliban figured as they are anti-Islam and anti-Muslims. Quraanic verses used to show how Talibanization or Taliban is a threat to peace of the world.

However, after 10 years, when US economic started to fall, and it is facing economic deficit, US is attempting to change this atmosphere to create an environment where Taliban to be converted from bad to good.

Adoption of resolution 1998 and 1989 which separates Taliban and Alqaeda into different categories, in Security Council on Friday 17-06-2011 is the first step to declare that Taliban is a good organization as well as US and other groups have no objection on restoring talk with them.

This is a US policy to get out from Afghanistan. These US policies establish that US made Taliban bad for its policies, and now are making them good for its policies.

As for the efforts made by United States to start negotiations with Taliban cannot help it in getting out from this defiant country, because Taliban is fighting since last 10 years. Continuing US military operations in various parts of Afghanistan cannot eliminate them. The second thing; this time Taliban is not asking for negotiations with US but it is the US which wants dialogue, so looking toward the culture of Afghanistan it is hard to say that these efforts could be a fruitful for US.

However, one thing which is made by US is that bad Taliban has become a good Taliban. Tomorrow; when US policies will take a U-turn; what they will say about Alqaeda; let us see which way the wind blows.

[Abdul Hannan Siwani Nadwi is based at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He can be contacted at ahannan111@yahoo.in or on his Mobile # +966 (0) 546411482]

5-yr-old missing from Chennai Marina

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 18 May 2011 | Posted in , ,

Chennai:  Thamanah, a five-year-old kindergarten student, has been missing from Chennai's Marina Beach since the 11th after she came there with her brother and mother last Wednesday evening. The two siblings were apparently playing near their mother but after a while she disappeared mysteriously. Her mother frantically searched the area in vain and filed a police complaint.

Thamanah's father Syed Noor Ahmed and the other members of the family have been searching for the girl ever since. Every day they leave their home in Royapettah at 7 am to walk down to all the residential areas and fishing hamlets near the beaches in the city. The search ends only late in the night when the family troops back exhausted.

It's been six days since Thamanah went missing and the family is still looking for clues to her whereabout. Police also feel that since the child speaks only Urdu, she might have not been able to communicate her position to somebody who might have found her.

If you have any information about Thamanah's whereabouts, please contact Mr Noor on 09789929297 or 09677161672.

(Courtesy: NDTV)

BJP govt. to build Haj House in Karnataka

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 28 August 2010 | Posted in

By Maqbool Ahmed Siraj

Bangalore: The BJP Government in Karnatka has promised to construct a Haj House in the State. The proposed building would be constructed on a four acre plot at Belahalli, located on the route to Bangalore International Airport. Most of the states in India have built their Haj Houses, but Karnataka is yet to have one.

Every successive government promised one of its own, on a different locale. But no one knows what happened to the umpteen promises and the plots of land the local Urdu press untiringly identified as the proposed sites.

Latest plan has been unfolded by Prof. Mumtaz Ali Khan, the Minister for Minority Affairs who said a Haj House would be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs. 20 crore. Noted construction company Prestige Group would construct a mosque within the complex at its own cost. Prof. Khan told Islamic Voice in a chat that the wakf land for the purpose of Haj House is being purchased from Yaqeen Shah Wali Dargah at a cost of Rs. 4 crore. The Minister said he would himself contribute Rs. 50 lakh from his personal funds which he received by selling a personally owned farm located on the route to the new Airport.

The Minister informed that he would soon visit Lucknow and Chennai where ideal Haj Houses have come up during the last decade. He said he would consider setting up a Haj Service Society to finance and service the new facility. He said the plan envisages a five-storey Haj House which will be used even for purposes of marriages and other conventions and conferences. It is mooted that philanthropists would be invited to donate money to construct rooms that would be dedicated to the memory of persons designated by them.

[Maqbool Ahmad Siraj is a prominent Journalist based at Bangalore. He can be contacted at maqsiraj@gmail.com]

:: GENERAL :: Kolkata Muslim Diary

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 22 July 2010 | Posted in

Kolkata Muslim Diary

By Yoginder Sikand

I am back in Kolkata (how I wish I could still spell it Calcutta !), the city where I was born, after a gap of almost two decades. Little has changed: the buildings are as dreadfully ugly and drab (or perhaps even more so) as when I last saw them; the traffic still snarls and moves at snail’s pace; and the pollution as dense and stifling. But this time I am in Bengal for something new: to do a quick visit of some Muslim institutions. I have little time to engage in anything even remotely resembling in-depth field-work, and so the impressions I gain are just that—impressionistic. But, still, I think I can get a sort of sense of things, a little more than just a glimpse of Muslim life in West Bengal —almost a fourth of whose population is Muslim.

The Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, located in what was till recently a Kolkata suburb, has organized a three-day conference on Muslims in Contemporary India, and I have been invited as a speaker. Apparently, this is the first time the Centre is conducting a seminar on a Muslim-related issue—an indicator, it seems to me, of how marginal Muslims generally are in contemporary Indian academic discourses in the social sciences (except now, with the burgeoning academic racket centred on ‘terrorism’). That impression is reinforced in the course of the next three days of ‘deliberations’—with the exception of two sociologists, the rest mumble banal generalities. Few, if any, seem to have done any field work at all. This is hardly surprising: after all, how many people really want to ‘dirty’ their hands in the field, tramping around hamlets and slums? If you regularly read newspapers, there was nothing new for you in what these wordy professors endlessly pontificated about all through those three days. One wonders what they do to merit the fat salaries they get—which have recently been made fatter by the recent pay-hike with the new Pay Commission. One wonders, too, at the point of these heavily-funded conferences. This one must have cost the public exchequer several lakhs, at the very least.

:: GENERAL :: Islam would have saved Jackson, says brother

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 24 June 2010 | Posted in

Islam would have saved Jackson, says brother 

Embracing Islam would have saved the life of pop legend Michael Jackson, his brother Jermaine said in an interview last night.

Speaking ahead of the first anniversary tomorrow of the death of the "King of Pop" at the age of 50 from a prescription drug overdose, he told the BBC that his brother should have left the US.

"I felt that if Michael would have embraced Islam, he would still be here today and I say that for many reasons," Jermaine Jackson, who is a Muslim, told BBC World Service radio.

:: GENERAL :: Converts to Islam are often diligent followers

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

Converts to Islam are often diligent followers

By Elizabeth Llorente

Conversion to Islam officially begins with this simple step: a declaration that there is just one God, and that Muhammad is his prophet.

The declaration of faith, known as the Shahadah, is recited before witnesses, often congregants in a mosque, said Mohammed Qatanani, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of Passaic County in Paterson, N.J.

"If someone tells me they're willing to convert to Islam, I will try to make sure it is a voluntary act," said Qatanani, adding that the mosque gets about three or four converts a month. "I try to make sure that the person is not doing it for any gain but because the person believes in it. Then the person makes the declaration, and they become a Muslim."

:: GENERAL :: IDB approves projects worth nearly SR1bn

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

IDB approves projects worth nearly SR1bn

By Shaheen Nazar

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) will be spending nearly SR1 billion on new projects in member countries and Muslim communities in non-member countries.

The was announced on Monday (June 21, 2010) during the IDB board of executive directors' meeting which began under the chairmanship of IDB President Ahmad Mohamed Ali in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Sunday (June 20, 2010).

:: GENERAL :: Ramadan to begin August 11, says UAE astronomer

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

Ramadan to begin August 11, says UAE astronomer  

IMO News Service

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan will begin from August 11 and Eid-ul-Fitr will be celebrated on September 10 this year (2010), a UAE astronomer has said.

Ibrahim Al Jarwan, astronomer and supervisor of the Sharjah Planetarium, said, “The crescent moon of the fasting month will be sighted Tuesday, August 10, and Wednesday (August 11) will be the first day of Ramadan.”

:: GENERAL :: BJP needs to convert the modern Hindu woman

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 14 June 2010 | Posted in ,

BJP needs to convert the modern Hindu woman

By M.J. Akbar

The BJP seems caught in a bit of bind. It is beginning to look like the punter who lost a flutter on the football match and then a fortune on the action replay. Its original mistake was a misconception; its contemporary error is a misperception.

The historic flaw is its belief, at some gut level, that India is a secular country because the minorities want secularism. Indian Muslims do have a vested interest in secularism, since it ensures equality and democratic power, but that is less than half the story.

:: GENERAL :: 73 Muslim passengers, among 160 killed, in Air India Express plane crash at Mangalore

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 22 May 2010 | Posted in

73 Muslim passengers, among 160 killed, in Air India Express plane crash at Mangalore

By Danish Ahmad Khan

One hundred and sixty (160) people were killed Saturday, May 22, 2010 when Air India Express flight AIX-812 flying in from Dubai crashed while landing at Mangalore airport, which is surrounded by deep gorges. The plane erupted in fire when it overshot the runway and plunged down a cliff. Though it had been raining for two days, there was six-kilometre visibility with no wind when the Boeing 737, carrying 160 passengers including 19 children and four infants as well as six crew members attempted to land at 6.05 a.m., the civil aviation ministry said.

:: GENERAL :: Indian Muslim scholars visit Iran, meet Grand Ayatollah Taskhiri

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 23 April 2010 | Posted in

Indian Muslim scholars visit Iran, meet Grand Ayatollah Taskhiri

The secretary general for the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought (WFPIST) Ayatollah Mohammad-Ali Taskhiri said religious scholars from all Islamic schools have a key role in helping prevent discord among Muslims.

Speaking at a meeting with Indian Muslim scholars in Tehran on Tuesday (April 13, 2010), Taskhiri stressed the need for unity among the Ummah and said, “The holy Qur’an has equated differences and discord with adversity and affliction.”

Scholars, theologians and preachers should know that “Enemies of Islam are trying to sow discord among Muslims” and that it is their obligation to prevent divisions in the ranks of Muslims.

During the meeting prominent Indian Muslim scholars, including Dr. Qalbe Sadeq and Abdul Wahab Khalaji , emphasized the need for Muslims to help the oppressed and downtrodden, close ranks and strive for the unity of Ummah.

:: ISSUES :: SC backs quota for Muslims in Andhra Pradesh

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 03 April 2010 | Posted in ,

SC backs quota for Muslims in Andhra Pradesh

By Manish Ranjan & C.R. Sukumar

The Supreme Court on Thursday (March 25, 2010) in an interim measure upheld the constitutional validity of 4% reservation provided to socially and economically backward Muslims in Andhra Pradesh.

Though Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have announced reservations for socially and educationally backward Muslims, it is the first time the apex court has upheld the validity of religion-based reservation.

The ruling in effect has stayed the seven-judge Andhra Pradesh high court judgement of 8 February, which struck down a state law providing 4% reservation in educational institutions and jobs to 15 groups belonging to the Muslim community. The high court had found the law unconstitutional and violative of the right to equality.

:: INTERFAITH RELATIONS :: Muslim prisoners fast during Navratri to atone for sins

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

Muslim prisoners fast during Navratri to atone for sins

They wake up early, keep fast, undertake Hindu rituals, sing hymns and eat a special diet like their Hindu brethren during the ongoing Navratri festival. These Muslim inmates of a Barabanki jail believe this will help them seek pardon from the almighty for their crimes and sins.

Nearly 30 Muslim prisoners of the district jail in Barabanki, about 35 km from Lucknow, are not only observing the Navratri fast, but also participating in the prayers to goddess Durga, to whom the nine-day festival is dedicated.

'The uncommon practice of Muslims observing the Navratri fast in the jail is surely an exemplar of communal harmony. It would promote amicable relations between the two communities,' deputy jailor Ritwik Priyadarshee told IANS on telephone from Barabanki.

Indian Muslim News - BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 20 February 2010 | 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)

Indian Muslim News - GENERAL

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 07 February 2010 | Posted in ,

Everybody in Pak knows India's prosperity is the next big story: Steve Coll

By Ronojoy Sen

There are few who can match Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll's expertise on al Qaida and the Af-Pak region. He is the author of several books including The Bin Ladens, Ghost Wars and On the Grand Trunk Road. Coll, who is currently president of the New America Foundation, was in India to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival. He spoke to TOI-Crest's Books Editor Ronojoy Sen ...

During a discussion at the festival, you were saying that the al Qaida's ambitions of becoming a global entity have been thwarted. Could you elaborate?

Overall, al Qaida is politically weakening but it's militarily resilient. To understand that paradox you have to start with the question of what al Qaida actually is. It is a difficult subject because al Qaida is several things at the same time. It is a very specific organisation with a very specific 21-year history. It's had the same two leaders since its founding meetings in Peshawar in 1988; it's had the same management committees continuously; and it remains intact as an organisation even though it is under severe pressure. It's not able to operate the way it used to do. But nevertheless it has had continuous leadership and management . That's one way of thinking about al Qaida, the core organisation.

But that's not the only way to think about al Qaida. It's also a network of like-minded groups around the Islamic world. It has always seen itself that way. Since the 1990s they have formally announced their network from time to time in documents and petitions. So in South Asia, for example , you would think of like-minded groups based in Pakistan with an India focus that sometimes explicitly, sometimes informally, align with al Qaida - Lashkar, Jaish and splinter groups. Finally, in addition to these characteristics of a core organisation and a network of organisations with similar goals, al Qaida has evolved into something less corporal, something more abstract. It's a brand, it's an ideology that can be conveyed to followers, who will never have contact with their leaders, using the internet as an enabling device, a marketing device. If you evaluate al Qaida across all of these characteristics, while the core organisation is resilient and the network is still dangerous, especially in South Asia, the brand is losing its cache. The political appeal of al Qaida's methods has collapsed in Muslim country after Muslim country.

From Indonesia to Turkey to Egypt to Bangladesh, the political issues that al Qaida spoke about around the time of 9/11 attack still appeal to large numbers of Muslim citizens , but the tactics that al Qaida have employed and the revolutionary methods that they've undertaken, people have repudiated it.

But what evidence is there of the unpopularity that you're talking about? Is it from polls or is it from your experience of reporting from the Islamic world?

There is multiple scientific opinion research polling by different organisations. If you read deeply into the best polling, it doesn't support some of the cliched views about the Muslim world in the West. For example, one standard thing to say about al Qaida in America today is that their political standing has collapsed because they started killing Muslims rather than just infidels. But the polling shows that huge majorities of Muslims in all kinds of countries are overwhelmingly opposed to the indiscriminate killing of civilians no matter who does that for what reason. Whether it's Americans bombing or whether its al Qaida blowing up people in airplanes, it doesn't matter. And that's true all over the world. It does show al Qaida has defeated itself or certainly contained itself because of its lack of political strategy.

If you look around the world of Islamist movements, including those that are engaged in violence and those that are strongly opposed to the US - for example Hamas - many of these have developed political wings. They provide social services, they elect officials, they compete in labour union elections. That's the Muslim Brotherhood tradition to organise at every level of society and al Qaida, for whatever reason - I think it's the limits of their leadership, the lack of imagination, the extremism and the religious fanaticism that was present in their leadership from the beginning - never found a way to build a political strategy. They were very effective at building a media strategy but not a political one. They have no followers really, they have a few hardcore recruits . They have people who sympathise with their goals but they do not have loyal cadre, sworn members at all levels of political affiliations. And I don't know how they are going to build such a thing, especially now.

What are the links between al Qaida and terrorist outfits in India?

The American intelligence community believes that the core al Qaida organisation operating through their own channels and through like-minded Pakistani groups has had independent contact with cells in India. There is some anxiety about that. Would this lead to more Mumbais being generated from inside India? Since Mumbai, you haven't really seen a metastasizing of that pattern. It's not surprising that there are fragmentary contacts that are easily documented. But it doesn't looks it's produced a wave yet. I think al Qaida is increasingly under pressure. They are having trouble maintaining their own local operations . Their own focus at the moment has been operations in Afghanistan against American troops and aiding the Pakistani Taliban in their efforts to put the Pakistani state off balance.

Do you agree with the belief that Indian Muslims are not radicalised at all?

This idea is similar to the idea that America's Muslim population is content, it's integrated, it's not going to get radicalised . There's a little bit of complacency in these assessments . It's not that somehow large sections of these populations are going to become radicalised and participate in revolutionary movements, but it doesn't take much to create violence - just a handful of groups and individuals. Every Muslim in the world is part of a common discourse about grievance, about violence. And to think that no participant in that discourse in India or the US will ever take it upon themselves to act is naive.

Why do you think there have been no attacks in India since 26/11?

In the US after 9/11, we had the same question: Why are we terror-free ? First, there are always multiple explanations. Second there's a kind of cyclical pattern. These groups don't have the capacity outside of Pakistan and Afghanistan to carry off a succession of sophisticated attacks. It's too hard for them to get one attack off and then immediately do another. They do have a capacity problem.

In the case of India I would assume that at least two factors are at play. One, the Indian security services and the government have clearly taken the imperative of domestic surveillance and counter-terrorism more seriously after Mumbai than ever before. And maybe for the first time it's become a political issue. There have been lapses in the past and the politicians didn't pay a price. This time it was obvious (laughs) that you would pay a price. That gets people motivated. The system has responded to that.

I also think that it's probable that the Pakistani security services concluded, however reluctantly, that they did not want to permit follow-on attacks of that sophistication and scale. It was too much for them to handle at this time. I don't believe they have given up on their idea of jihadi violence in India but in their very complicated calculation of costs and benefits in their relationship with the US and the toys they are trying to pull down out of that, to be caught either facilitating or being negligent about another Mumbai cell coming up in their territory, they would have to pay such a high price that it may have caused them to tell their people to chill for a while. It's a guess but it's hard to explain this pattern of quiet without reference to the Pakistani security services. Obviously infiltration in Kashmir is continuing, and so the Pakistani state may have said to their clients, "Let's go back to fighting on the ground."

We just had an incident in Srinagar...

Yes. One thing that was obvious about the attacks on the homeland in India is that you can attack all you want in Kashmir and the international community will not react (laughs). That conflict is its own story. But once you come down out of Kashmir into the Indian cities the whole world starts paying attention. The costs go up and the impact goes up too. That might have cautioned them at least temporarily.

There are many, particularly in Pakistan, who believe that if you resolve Kashmir you take out the real cause of terrorism in South Asia. Do you agree?

I don't believe that at all. But Kashmir is an impediment to broader changes between India and Pakistan that are necessary to gradually eliminate the structural causes of persistent terrorism in India and Afghanistan. That is to say, change the practices of the Pakistani security services. In the medium run, how do you break the cycle of clandestine war between India and Pakistan, the use of jihadi groups? The only way you break that pattern is the same way similar conflicts have ended in other parts of the world - in the Balkans, in Southeast Asia - where economic integration and shared prosperity changes the incentive structure for the Pakistani army where they see that their own interests are better served by open, managed borders. Everybody in Pakistan knows that India's prosperity is the big story of the region in the next 20-30 years. Pakistan can either be an impediment to that or be a part of it.

And that probably reflects sentiments in Kashmir too where there is growing ambivalence about Pakistan...

Absolutely. In fact, your newspaper (The Times of India) has quoted Manmohan Singh as saying that India was "very close to a non-territorial settlement" in 2007. I love that language. Because that's the right way to think about this. What you're trying to do in Kashmir is to buy time for these other effects to take hold, and for both countries to share a period of war-free economic growth, middle class formation and cultural accommodation. It doesn't have to be peace, love and harmony. It just needs to be normalisation - the sort that you see between Serbia and Croatia.

In order to buy that 20 years, you don't have to settle every line on the map. You have to put in place a framework in which you agree on some broad principles and agree to no longer pursue those goals through violence. It's just creating a framework where the broader process of peaceful economic and cultural integration can occur. That's the only way forward. You have to be realistic though. When you announce peace, those who have an interest in the violence will react, they will try to blow it up. The question is how much capacity the Pakistani state has to do its bit. The problem is that India understandably doesn't believe that Pakistan has the will. If India thought Pakistan had the will, it would have a realistic approach to its capacity problems. But you can't accept the capacity excuse when you don't think the other side is serious.

Won't the Pakistani military establishment keep Kashmir alive?

Musharraf brought around the [Pakistani] corps command to this deal in 2007. It was interesting when I was reporting on this in Pakistan and you asked the question: What was the winning argument in the corps command meetings? First of all, Musharraf was at the peak of his authority, but there were three winning arguments. One was that if we want to modernise an army and defend Pakistan's territorial integrity while India modernises its army, we need more money than our current growth rates can support. We already take a huge share of Paksitan's GDP. We need the whole pie to grow. We need economic peace just to defend ourselves. The second argument was that we can achieve acceptable goals in Kashmir by political means that we cannot by guerilla violence. Let's accept it, our strategy isn't working. The Indians have defeated the insurgency, they have been able to create enough political normalcy in their part of Kashmir. We can keep throwing rocks, but why not create an outcome that history will recognise as just through political negotiations. The final argument was international legitimacy. The Pakistani army for all of it crazy self-defeating policies also craves recognition as a legitimate army, an unusually good fighting force. Musharraf personally wanted to go Oslo and be awarded the peace prize with Manmohan Singh (laughs). These factors are still there in the psyche, but the problem is that the Pakistani government is in no position to come back to that.

How do you see the future of US policy in the Af-Pak region?

Despite the signaling that Obama did to American audiences about 2011, actually American policy is constructed for the long run in Afghanistan and Pakistan alike. The model that the American establishment has in mind is Egypt or Colombia or Philippines or other areas where long-standing alliances had to endure hostile public opinion and bad governance in the host country. The model is one where you just endure and you keep working on it. It doesn't mean that you give money unquestioningly. In Afghanistan all that it means is preventing revolution and civil war. And in Pakistan it means help creating conditions in which Pakistan can succeed alongside India.

Having attended a few hearings in Capitol Hill, I get the sense that the US Congress is getting fed up with giving aid to Pakistan.

That is an important anxiety. I think it's constructive because it is a legitimate set of questions to ask and it also puts some leverage on the Pakistanis. The Pakistani government has to take account of these concerns. These are American Congressmen who question whether the Pakistani government is sincere about this partnership. There is a lot of manufactured outrage in the US-Pak relationship that is a negotiating tactic. Pakistanis manufactured a lot of outrage about the conditionalities [in the Kerry-Lugar bill]. It wasn't even conditionalities. So why do they manufacture the outrage? So that the Americans will feel guilty and send them more helicopters! Do you think that members of the Congress might be aware that their complaints are a sort of counter-force against this Pakistani outrage? I think they are. Both sides have legitimate grievances. Neither side wants to blow up the relationship. Neither side wants the other one to get away with easy assumptions about this partnership. The problem is more energy is wasted in manufacturing these grievances for negotiating than is actually directed towards fixing the problems.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

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