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Sunday, November 15, 2015

ISIS, nuclear apocalypse and hypocrisy: What we do best.

A nuclear apocalypse is looking more and more likely. image courtesy io9

Mumbai, Baghdad, London, Beirut, Peshawar, Kabul, Kuwait, Lahore, Nairobi... Just a few cities I could list out of recent memory which have witnessed coordinated suicide attacks resulting in civilian massacres. Paris is the latest in this list.

courtesy: cnbc

Such an atrocity may bring a hasty, ill-advised backlash by the French government and her allies. But no meaningful action will be taken by any nation or alliance to get rid of ISIS. This is because all decisions will be based on ill-intent, malice and greed.
While European right-wing is spoilt for choice on how to exploit the Paris attacks to shut our gates to refugees, make more war overseas and demonize millions of European Muslims; I am dreading what awaits humanity if they got their wish.
Douglas Murray and Richard Dawkins are still  parroting on about how uncivilized  the Islamic religion is.

They, of course are doing what they do best. Being bigots.

Before we ask whether Islam is the cause of such horrendous violence, we must ask first where do these people come from, what drives them to do such evil and who controls them? Popular answers are that these are individuals radicalized by political islamism, driven to violence by hate preachers and they are instructed to do so by ISIS or Al-Qaeda.

Political islamism has been around for a long time as a general nuisance in Muslim societies. They fail in elections and go through cycles of popularity depending on how bad the dictators get.  Hate preachers can be controlled by vigilance and effective law enforcement.

But what about ISIS? 

The ideological nerve center for the current wave of terror is in fact a manufactured entity. It smacks of think-tank naivete and juvenile policy blunders. Someone collected venomous vipers from around the world in a bag and then carelessly dropped it over Syria. And then they ran for their lives.

This is what US and Co. do when Saudis, Turks and Israelis get twitchy about Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Israel did what it does best: Make a fuss and divert the world's attention from its ongoing apartheid against the Palestinians.

courtesy ibtimes.
And Saudis did what they do best: Bankrolled another jihad, blessed by their US and EU patrons. Turks joined in.
Arab spring didn't quiet catch on in Syria. Assad regime may have been as bad as other dictatorships, but the Syrians turned out to be less bitter than Egyptians. One factor was that Muslim Brotherhood (political islamism) had little political clout in Syria, the other; Assad, despite his cruelties, has a very loyal support base in many parts of the country.
As early as 2011, analysts at Stratfor (as exposed by Wikileaks) were predicting a limited regional war between Israel and Syria to solve the Hezbollah problem once and for all. Same group of analysts were also spotting Jihadi propaganda in Arabic newspapers in the guise of defending human rights of Syrian Muslims. 'It's the Saudis', remarks an analyst on a news piece quoting a rebel leader's call to arms. In 2013, UK and France were planning to arm  the rebel groups in Syria. Nowadays, US secretary of state cannot stop mentioning the 'moderate' groups whose aspirations of toppling the government have been dashed by the Russian intervention.

courtesy: wall of controversy
One must give credit to the Saudis and Qataris for not doing this Jihad business half-heatedly. Once they decide to go to war, they make sure that there is enough manpower and dollars to bankroll it for a long period of time. A thirty year war we hear.. with the sole aim to weaken Iran's position in the region.
But at this juncture, once the many headed hydra of Islamist insurgency has established itself in the region, Iran did what it does best. 

Iran compromised without losing influence in the region. Russia came to the rescue.
I wonder why ISIS has posed no real threat to Israel, Saudi Arabia or Turkey? Even when Turkey had the opportunity to play a decisive role in getting rid of ISIS. They only pretended to play the role for a few days.
Then it became clear that they also were doing what they did best. Killing Kurds.
These thirty years look very lucrative for certain industries. Someone has to make the daily load of bombs to be dropped on a vast area. And who makes the expensive fighter jets to be sold to the Arab states? And boots on the ground are always good business of the military industrial complex.
There is a price to remain in power in the Middle East. You have to buy protection from the West and hire mercenaries to fight your wars.
What if you can't afford it?

Well, spring comes every year. It could be your turn in a few months..
While all this goes on, thousands of innocents are being killed in the conflict zone, in Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon. With civilian lives lost on European soil, a EU/NATO invasion is becoming more and more likely. But this time, Putin's Russia may be ready and waiting to settle old scores.
And then we will all do what we do best. Fight another world war and kill each other!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A small town with an even smaller heart

If you profess to be a Muslim, you are required to pray five times a day. An adult male must attend the mosque to pray in congregation as many times as he can. That is why you can hear muezzins call to prayer, the Adhan, in all towns and cities around the Islamic world. Five times a day, the muezzin invites the faithful to his mosque to fulfill their duty towards their God.

A Mosque is like a second home to a Muslim; his first if he achieves the spiritual devotion as intended by the scriptures.
Now imagine a town where the local residents have tried to block the building of a Mosque for a tiny community. Imagine how hard it is to be a practicing Muslim having no access to a  mosque. The townsfolk have a serious reason for their rejection of this mosque. They think that it would be a serious threat to their way of life. Not only that, they feel that any such construction would be against the religious tradition of the town and the country. Mobs attacked the under construction mosque numerous times despite repeated attempts by the community to seek police protection.

The community dropped the plans to build their mosque for the sake of maintaining peace in their small town and instead agreed with the local administration  to build a residence in its place. They had an Imam to accommodate and living quarters of the mosque would have been ideal. Mosque or no mosque, the Imam was there to stay to cater for their spiritual and educational needs. But the locals weren't content with this arrangement. They wanted a guarantee that no prayer congregation could take place in that house.
You will be shocked to learn that a sworn affidavit to this effect was also duly signed by this community.

This all happened more than ten years ago. Now the community has received various threats from their neighbours to stop using the facility for prayers. They suspect that the Imam may be leading some of his visitors and guests in prayers in secret. The local police has been reminded of the affidavit and requested to take immediate action against the clandestine activities of this group.

It could easily have been a story of Christian, Mongol, Hindu or Sikh oppression of their Muslim subjects in the past.

But this story is about Pakistan: A Muslim majority country where these particular Muslims are not Muslim. Their mosque is not Mosque. In this town of Tatlay Aali, near Gujranwala, like the rest of the country since 1974, Ahmadis are a non-Muslim minority. Since 1984 they have no rights to build a mosque or call it one. Now we have learnt that according to the pious and right-minded residents of TatlayAali, they can't even pray within the confines of their homes as it is considered to be against the law of the land.

I heard this story from an acquaintance and had it verified. For me it came as no surprise as I have seen it happen numerous times before. Back in the early 90s, I witnessed the destruction of the under-construction mosque (or Qadiani temple as described by the press) in Rawalpindi. Local mullahs petitioned against the mosque in the courts and as a result, many thousands of Ahmadis in Rawalpindi are still without a mosque of their own.

Tatlay Aali is a typical small town in Punjab. It probably could still be classed as a village, but increasing urbanization in the region has blurred the line between a village and a small town even more. It probably used to have a diverse population. A beautiful Sikh Gurudawara still stands tall, although deteriorating due to lack of use and maintenance.
I don't need to explain why the Sikhs left. A small Christian community also lives here.

Like the rest of the country, terrorism and religious extremism are threatening the very core of this society too. In Tatlay Aali, you hear the news of armed militants seeking safe houses in the local madrassah and engaging the local police in a shootout. A seminary teacher also got arrested for training small children for terror activities.

Tatlay Aali: Four terrorists with their pressure cooker bombs. Image courtesy

It also appears to be a good spot to hide and negotiate ransom for kidnappings.

The town isn't doing  so well on the moral front either.
While the local seminary provides shelter to terrorists, crime against donkeys makes headlines. Four poor donkeys were abducted by thieves and their skinless carcasses were discovered in the fields. I am puzzled myself, but in a country where donkey meat has been served in many a restaurants as mutton, donkey hide must have its uses.

Another news item described a case of incest - rather the rape of a girl by her father. Also in the news are numerous stories of murder and abductions.
Human rights commission of Pakistan reported in 2008 two harrowing incidents in Tatlay Aali . One, of a labourer whose fingers were chopped off by a landlord for refusing to do his bidding, and of a family of seven sold in slavery to another landlord for just over 1400 US dollars.
A young man commits suicide after having an argument with his older sister. Whereas the local police arrested a number of gentlemen on drug and alcohol related offenses. Police also discovered a brothel and arrested few people.

Organizations of various Sunni or Wahabi affiliations are aplenty in this part of the world.

One news site lists all the happening news in the region and almost the whole page is full of statements from religious leaders of this town decrying the threat of secularism to the country. One Jamaat-e-Islami leader told a rally that one should never compromise on the belief of Khatme nabuwwat, the finality of prophethood.

A leader of Sunni Tehreek laments the fact that crimes of corruption, nepotism and armed robberies are rife in the area, sewers and garbage dumps are overflowing on their streets and people are suffering under the current government.

Despite a couple of seminaries, dozens of constitutionally acceptable Mosques and tens of religious organizations, the very small Pakistani town of Tatlay Aali seems to be festering in all sorts of depravity and moral ills.

Should I be surprised that the congregational prayers of a small group of Ahmadis are a threat to the town's religious way of life?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

What so special about the Ahmadis?

Ahmadiyya Muslim Annual Convention; Jalsa Salana 2014

What is so special about the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community?
Those of us who count themselves to be the part of this movement will have many answers to this question.
But the most important answer in my eyes is that the Ahmadi Muslims follow a Caliph, the Khalifatul Masih, who they believe to have been chosen by God, through the democratic vote of a large electoral college comprising of representatives from all over the world.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V, Mirza Masroor Ahmad.
There are tens of millions of Ahmadi Muslims in the world and they are not short of adversaries; mostly their coreligionists, who have been told that Messiahs have to fly down from the skies on the shoulders of angels.
The community would have been just another sect in Islam if it was only a theological argument about the nature of prophecy and the revival of faith, but the fact is, it is much more than that.
Ahmadiyya Islam is the only solution to the scourge of violent extremism which has engulfed the world of Islam.

Sir Zafrulla Khan, the Pakistani Ahmadi jurist and statesman, while speaking at the first constituent assembly of his newly founded homeland, warned his countrymen that 'in place of the ideals set up  by Islam, people may fall into the error of substituting tinsel limitations and narrow bigotries'.

Sir Zafrulla Khan

A companion of the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement and his succssors, Sir Zafrulla was acutely aware of the takfiri mindset of many Muslims. Saudi Arabia was gradually rising as the power-broker in the middle-east and the Wahabi/Salafi House of Saud had no intention of letting any tolerant version of Islam to prevail if they could help it.
Wahabism or its tributaries had opposed Ahmadiyya Islam since its inception. But the rise of the Saudis had given Wahabism a source of power and influence which grew steadily across the Muslim world. Debates and fatwas of heresy were no longer sufficient to curb the growing intellectual and spiritual impact of the Ahmadiyya caliphate.

When the universal declaration of human rights was being debated at the UN, Saudi Arabia disagreed with the clause on the rights of an individual to adopt any faith they choose. Sir Zafrulla, an Ahmadi Muslim and the delegate for Pakistan not only supported the UDHR but declared that Islam advocates the full freedom of conscience. Saudis disagreed and also noted that Zafrulla did not belong to  mainstream Islam.

A prominent Iraqi journalist Ali Effendi revealed that in 1949 he was asked to write against the community in Arabic newspapers by certain 'agents' of imperialism. Instead, Mr Effendi defended the community by writing a tract listing the services of the Ahmadis for the rights of Palestinians and other Arab nations on various forums. A few years later, a violent movement broke out against the Pakistani Ahmadis in Pakistan. One of the main demands of the agitators was to remove Sir Zafrulla Khan from his post as the foreign minister.

Strangely enough, in the coming years, Saudis and their Arab allies could not thank Sir Zafrulla enough for being the lone warrior for the Palestinian cause at the UN.
Recently, Wikileaks latest project, Saudi Cables revealed that Prince Nayef himself had instructed his embassy in Indonesia to increase their activities against the Indonesian Ahmadis.
I wasn't surprised to learn that. In fact, the Saudis were instrumental in severe persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan, even getting them declared non-Muslims and banning their entry to Makkah. I have discussed this in great detail in my blog here and here.
Prince Nayef, the hardline Wahabi/Salafist Crown prince who died in 2012. (Image courtesy Wikipedia)
The cable from Prince Nayef to Saudi embass in Jakarta: (source Wikileaks)
Prince Faisal, later the Saudi King, knew of the community as early as 1924. He knew Sir Zafrulla Khan personally. Faisal, dreaming of a caliphate of his own, assumed the leadership of the Arab world already in tatters and in deep political turmoil, and used his oil money to fund a global takfiri campaign. His first target was the Ahmadis.
Faisal withi a young Muammar Qaddafi (Image courtesy Wikipedia)
After he was assassinated, King Faisal's successors dove head first into the business of Jihad. Afghanistan and Pakistan became their playgrounds. Whereas their bigoted worldview and a thirst for blood has helped maintain a favourable economic outcome for the West, Taliban and other subsidiary Jihadi organizations have continued to target Ahmadis in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia in the last 30 years.
In 1984, Gen. Zia, another sworn ally of Saudi Arabia and the US attempted to incarcerate the Khalifatul Masih, but failed.

General Zia's draconian laws resulted in state sponsored persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan.
Khalifatul Masih IV moved to London and continued his mission with much greater effectiveness in the UK. Zia, like Faisal left the world unrequited in his dream to destroy the Ahmadiyya Caliphate.
Post Soviet war Taliban had a short-lived Emirate (wannabe caliphate) of their own which died its own death. Mullah Omar and his advisers turned Afghanistan into a haven for the jihadis and invited a destruction upon their people which continues to this day.
Now everyone is talking about ISIS and their Caliphate, of Boko Haraam, the new Taliban in Afghanistan and ex Al-Qaeda groups pledging their allegiance to the so-called caliph Baghdadi. 
Post revolution Shia Iran and numerous Western misadventures have caused this takfiri fervour to intensify. Sponsoring one murderous campaign after another, we can sense the desperation of a dying empire. An empire built on misplaced sense of entitlement to lead the Muslim through force and coercion.
Jesus, the Messiah to the children of Israel,  once spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven and of creating new heavens and a new earth. Of course he meant that his coming will transform the spiritual life of the Jews and will give them a new purpose to make the world a better place. In Islamic terms, Jesus was a caliph to Moses and David.
Islam is need of its very own true Caliphate. 
Ahmadiyya Caliphate has been winning the hearts and minds for the past 100 years and this conquest is destined to save the world.
UK will host over 30000 Muslims from across the country and around the world this month at the Jalsa Salana. They will renew their pledge to the Khalifatul Masih in a global Baia'at ceremony, promising to carry on the mission to create new heavens and a new earth.


Bai'at: The Pledge of allegiance to the Khalifatul Masih:


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Qadri's 'fool them twice' curriculum

Families fleeing the UK to join ISIS is no joke. But recruiting a rent-a-cleric to issue new fatwas shows the naivete of the UK establishment trying to deal with this crisis. The infamous Dr. Tahirul Qadri has been the go-to fatwa guy for some Whitehall pen pusher or a very incompetent think tank. A few years ago, he issued a fatwa against terrorism, which is in the same league as fatwa against snowmen. Those who ordered the fatwa should at least have changed the title of the memo that was circulating in the internal emails.
They could have asked for a 'fatwa against evil', overarching all bad things.
Now comes the latest gimmick. A curriculum to combat radicalization in Muslim children. According to Tahirul Qadri, this should be made compulsory in British schools. Apparently this publication contains all the counter-arguments to successfully combat the poisonous ideology of ISIS.
Only if things were that simple. It is easy to churn out booklets and articles on any subject. Internet is full of such expert blogs and websites which are always used as vehicles for advertising other products. The product in this curriculum is not peace or counter-terrorism, it is the author himself.
Mr. Qadri is a proven liar and cheat, who has also been hired by the Pakistani establishment for his rabble rousing skills in his native country to pressurize the democratically elected Sharif government into subservience.
Qadri addressing a crowd of his followers from his 'container' during the 2014 anti-government sit-in. (source:
He doesn't live in Pakistan, but his livelihood appears to be based on the Minhaj foundation network of educational establishments in Pakistan. He is a skilled orator, and a master manipulator; bread and butter for the evangelical clerics from southern Punjab. He is extremely ambitious and has rose to prominence thanks to the superstitious nature of the 'sufi' Barelvi Islam. Qadri is famous for sharing spiritual experiences and dreams which somehow result in increased revenue for his Minhaj foundation.
Barelvis form the majority of the Pakistan diaspora in the UK. Most of the immigrants who came to the UK decades ago belong to this sect which takes its name after the city of Bareli in India where the founder of the sect, Ahmad Raza Khan was born. Ahmad Raza spent most of his life fighting a sectarian battle against the Deobandi and Wahabi clerics. His fatwas against these sects make an entertaining read; full of floral language and meticulously outlining all possible scenarios where the heresy of those infidels could be identified and shunned. Takfir was a favourite pass time of an average cleric in pre-partition India. It became a vocation after Saudi influence reached the newly found laboratory of Islam, Pakistan.
Mr. Qadri is a follower of Ahmad Raza, although many of his co-religionist Barelvis also have declared him an infidel and a crook.
Qadri was too much of a maverick to stick with the crowd. He carved out his own little sect which revolves around his person; a pseudo-sufi cult which has a religious face, Minhajul Quran foundation and political face, the PAT (Pakistan Awami Tahreek). His followers consider him to be the Sheikh-ul-Islam, a grand title for an intellectual pygmy. Some even elevated him to the title of the 'Mujaddid', the reformer of this era, but this claim would have been a step too far. To date, he has abstained from proclaiming this title for himself.
Mr. Qadri has been busy producing booklets on various contemporary and classical Islamic issues, none worthy of any scholarly merit, especially nothing to shift the Pakistani Muslim mindset to a better more enlightened understanding of the world. His spiritual and intellectual heritage is based on meaningless debates on matters of history and dogma which have no relevance to the modern world. He has tried to break free from that mould to appeal to a more educated audience with some success, but he  still belongs to  the same tradition which has given nothing to the Muslim world but endless schisms and divisions. They can't even agree on sighting of the new moon on the same day!
Mr. Qadri's tolerance mantra is not only superficial, it is a deception. As a young cleric of rising fame during General Zia's dictatorship, Qadri claims to have forced the dictator's hand to create the infamous blasphemy laws. According to Qadri himself, not even children or insane people could be spared their life if they had insulted the Prophet of Islam.
Qadri taking the credit for introducing the death penalty for Blasphemy in Pakistan (source
Freedom of religion and expression is a fundamental human right and the Quran enjoins all Muslims to establish and safeguard this right for all mankind. Tahirul Qadri's ideological foundations are still deeply rooted in the small-minded distortion of Islam that indoctrinates all its followers to keep the avenue of violence open, albeit theoretical. It is this fundamentally flawed ideology which he cannot correct without reneging on his own claims and more importantly, to go against the very core of his barelvi beliefs.
The most recent ISIS recruits, three Bradford sisters and their children are a typical example of the impotence of this so-called sufi Islam. Barelvis have long been loosing ground to the more puritanical Wahabi beliefs in all over the world. First and second generations of many immigrant families have been abandoning their highly ritualistic, traditional Pakistani Islam to join the more puritanical and seemingly more intellectual wahabi/salafi Islam.
They keep what is common between the two sects; lack of tolerance for those who criticise Islam and absolute rejection for those who chose to leave Islam. According to them death is the only Islamic punishment for those who insult Islam or become apostates. Why do they act surprised when some of their children take such horrendous beliefs to their logical conclusion and travel to Syria?
Islam is need of reform and a return to the fundamental truths and principles of freedom and respect as outlined in the Quran. And for that to happen, selfish and opportunist clerics like Qadri must be challenged. They have fooled their followers for too long. Will the British public, including the British Muslims continue to play fools for such charlatans?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Jihadi Johns and Jihadi Janes

The so-called 'Jihadi' John. image courtesy

As long as the narrative of Muslim victimization by the West will prevail among the Muslim youth , cases like that of Jihadi John and of absconding would-be-Jihadi-brides will keep on happening.
It is easy for organisations like CAGE to blame the security agencies for exploiting Emwazi and others like him for some vague, half-baked undercover operations. But this stance only reinforces the view that many bright, young Muslim men and women are being viewed as the enemy without any justification. I for one cannot believe this narrative.
We can see a thriving and diverse, young, Muslim subculture in all major cities of the country. Teenagers, university students, graduate workers and young skilled migrants from all over are thrown together in Islamic societies, mosque study circles, sheesha lounges, snooker clubs etc.
Some of these gatherings are either run by or are frequented by politically motivated Islamists. Add to this mix the poisonous Salafist/Wahabi preaching and you get a generation of cultural narcissists who have lost their minds to the myth of a global Islamist state.
IS may be condemned in these circles, but there will be some who will marvel at its successes. Israeli atrocities, the massacre of the Rohingya people, the Chinese suppression of the Uyghurs and the drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan are also hot topics in such gatherings.
Young girls wishing to be empowered look to break free from a South Asian/Middle Eastern patriarchy only to fall prey to the promises of an even more misogynistic radical cult.
We did not lose these teenagers after the intervention by MI5. In fact, a majority of these gap-year Jihadis have surfaced in Syria to the shock and horror of their families as well as to their respective governments.
We had lost them between their mosques and University campuses.
MI5 picked on only the most rotten ones. I do not say that the over-zealous security agencies are not to blame for pushing a few psychopaths over the edge; but that they are also guilty of entrapping some dimwit fantasists and in doing so, providing the media with an all-you-can-eat buffet of potential Islamophobic headlines.
Parents, Imams and charismatic preachers are the main culprits. If your faith does not offer you reconciliation between your spiritual needs and the world you live in, and pitches you against the very society you inhabit, that faith needs to be discarded. These young people have been fed this dogmatic faith at home, at their mosques and in their university's Islamic society.
Regardless of what the 'moderates' among the Sunni and Shia clerics say to condemn ISIS and the wayward youth who go and join them, the real problem still remains.
Why is that hundreds of Islamic Organisations in the UK have failed to gain consensus on the most basic of issues. i.e., freedom of conscience. Those who have spoken against the issues of apostasy and blasphemy have been sidelined. The mainstream is pretending its best to reform, but there is no evidence of actual reform taking place. If over 20% of Muslims feel some kind of sympathy for the Charlie Hebdo murderers, many would have only condemned it conditionally.
I say this because the 'Preacher Circuit' of Muslim clerics around the UK is overwhelmingly represented by political Islamists. People who can produce moderate views for the consumption of the others, but for their own congregations they speak about the Utopian 'Islamic state' where punishments for apostasy, blasphemy and adultery/homosexuality would be carried out. Such preachers are routinely barred from university campuses but their notoriety only helps their impact online.
As long as we have such preachers who are deluding their audiences about the ideal Islamic state we cannot feel safe. We need to challenge these people publicly, in their congregations, on their TV channels and websites and twitter-feeds. A robust and aggressive theological debate which should be led by reasonable Muslims themselves is the best way forward. When they are defeated ideologically at home, we will be able to defeat them overseas as well.
Guardian's Blogging the Quran: One of the most effective ways of bringing the debate within Islam to the public.
Our Media can help by allowing the reformists to have their say against such hate preachers and by hosting and publishing such debates for all to make up their own minds about Islam and Islamism.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, One of the leading reform movements in Islam is based in the UK. The current head of the movement, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih, Mirza Masroor Ahmad has called for greater scrutiny of the content of what is being said by the clerics. Also, he has advised that law enforcement agencies should be armed and ready for any attacks on the targets at home. In his speech at a major peace symposium last year, his Holiness also pointed out to the fact that ISIS has a continuous and robust supply line of arms and other resources.
Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V will be speaking again at a similar event on 14th of March this year.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cluedo for the lamenters of Asma Bint Marwan

It appears that a few historians and critics of Islam have yet to understand the value of the Islamic scholarship on history and its transmission through the ages. Islamic historical sources can be divided into three categories.
Seerah (Sira) or the biographies of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). These contain orally transmitted history of the life and times of the Prophet. Ibn Ishaq's Sira is the earliest known record of Holy Prophet's life, but no known transcripts survived. We rely on Ibn Hisham's rendering of Ibn Ishaq's manuscripts for reference.
Hadith and their commentaries. All narrators of these prophetic sayings and incidents from his and his companions' lives are recorded in chronological order before narrating the story or quotation.
Tafseer and other early scholarly works: Early books on Quranic exegesis also contain some historic materials not found on other books.  

It has been well established principle of Islamic scholarship that in the matter of Shariah (laws, do's and dont's) Sira books cannot be relied upon due to the poor transmission of the events from the time of the Prophet. That is why Imam Hanbal, one of the first jurist Imams specifically indicated his mistrust of Ibn Ishaq Sira for deciding on the matters of jurisprudence.
Quran remains the unaltered and unadulterated Word of God in a Muslim's eyes; the source of dispute within Islam is not the words of Quran, but what they mean? And to the more literalistic, Orthodox Sects, these words cannot mean anything more than what the Prophet or his companions or some esteemed Imams have already said.
This not only provides ammunition to the endless ongoing schisms within Islam, but also helps fuel the Islamophobic propaganda by the bigots.
From the most violent Shia-Sunni war to the ridiculous debates on whether God has hands and feet, all disputes are deeply rooted in a bunch of texts which require constant scrutiny and criticism.
I keep hearing and reading about the vengeful killings of some 'esteemed' satirist poets in Medina and Makkah ordered by the Prophet Muhammad.
Tom Holland and Douglas Murray have both mentioned Asma bint Marwan, a Jewish poetess of Medina who lampooned the Prophet and was executed by one of his companions.
The argument goes that Charlie Hebdo attack was not so out of character, considering the founder of Islam himself did not tolerate any satire aimed at him.
But the fact is that what these commentators and scholars consider to be a fact, isn't actually true.
When you read the story of Asma's alleged killing, it becomes clear that this was a poorly fabricated tale. Firstly, this incidence was only reported by Ibn Ishaq and Waqidi in their Sira and not in the more authentic books of Hadith.
One may say that this was a deliberate omission by the Hadith collectors, but then you will find many other Ahadith in their collections which could have been discarded for the same purposes. This is simply not the scholarly tradition of the collectors of Hadith. They tested all narrations based on two criteria.
a. Chain of narrators, which must be continuous and sound.
b. The content of the story. Which must match between different chains of narrators.
Even then, the Hadith scholars would class the narrations as weak, doubtful, reliable, authentic etc., based on their own opinions. Debates on individual hadith reports have raged on ever since; usually it is one of the links in the 'chain' which is found unsound, unreliable, old, suffering from amnesia or just a habitual fabricator. Very few Ahadith have been spared this criticism.
In the presence of such an unforgiving evaluation, most of these sensational stories about magic, jinns, blasphemous poets and poetesses and imagined satanic verses can be proved as fabrications or misheard, misremembered or confused accounts.
Take the tale of Asma bint Marwan. According to the Sira literature she is said to have been killed barely a year and half into Hijrah, by a blind man, in the middle of the night, in her own home.
The blind man was Umair ibn Adiyy according to Ibn Ishaq.
But Al-Qastalani states that according to Ibn Duraid the assassin was called Ghashmir.
Another source Suhaili reveals that she was murdered by her own husband.
Yet Al-Qastalani also opined that she may have been killed by her own people.
But lets for once imagine that it was the blind Umair who killed Asma the poetess with the sword, in her house.
But another historian states that Umair did not kill Asma, but his own sister, Binte Adiyy.
The murdered was blind. The most popular version of the story says that he felt his way into Asma's house, found her, identified her and then plunged a blade into her chest. Or was it his sister? Indeed he was blind.
But so are those who actually believe that this event took place.
OK, say that in the presence of such contradictory stories, one or two mavericks still wish to rely on this story as fact.
Consider this..
It is year 2 After Hijra. Muslims are in a bitter conflict with the Meccans. The battle of Badr has already taken place.  Banu Qanuqa, one of the Jewish tribes of Medina have denounced the treaty with the Muslims and have been expelled.
But why would Muslims start a conflict with their fellow Jewish citizens who remain their allies barely a year into their treaty of Medina. Such murders would certainly have antagonised the proud Jewish tribes and given them a reason to rebel.
We know for a fact that Kaa'b bin Ashraf was executed for treason around the same time. He was a leader Banu Nadir Jews in Medina, but his guilt was so obvious that no one dared to defend him or dispute the decision.
In short, Hadith books do not mention the assassination of Asma or Abu ifak (another alleged satirist), there is no concrete evidence of the event every taking place. All the circumstantial evidence is against it.
And above all, the Prophet of Islam, May peace be upon him, would never have punished those who attacked his character. If you know the man, you will also come to respect and love his nobility, forgiveness and sense of justice.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Charlie Hebdo Terror Attack: Nothing to do with Islam, but something to do with the Imams.

You can read and hear a range of reactions from the public on the Charlie Hebdo terror attack. All sane voices, Muslims and others have condemned it.
Muslims will say that this is a terrible atrocity. Some will use it as yet another proof that ISIS and Al-Qaeda have nothing to do with Islam.
Our moderate leaders and organizations will condemn it as an attack on free speech. Most of them will also say that this has nothing to do with Islam. Far-right groups, religious bigots and populist columnists will blame Islam, Muslims and Immigration policies for the attack.
And then there are two groups which will use this as another ‘told you so’ moment to further their agenda of hatred and intolerance.
On one hand, we have the perpetrators of the attack and their supporters, who believe that their religion justifies such violence. They would say that Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists had crossed all bounds when they mocked the Prophet of Islam and their religion in such derogatory cartoons over the years. They had it coming.
The other group, the militant atheists will say that all religion including Islam are backward and superstitious. Their pontiff-in-chief Richard Dawkins says that not all religions are violent, only Islam is. And yes, Charlie Hebdo and their likes had it coming because our society is too scared to insult or ban Islam.
Blame the religion of course. How logical! 
I am going through the back catalogue Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon covers. I never saw one of them before, and do not wish to be subjected to such vulgarity again. It is a veritable collection of cheap humour masquerading as journalism. Graffiti has a place in human history, but it belongs to the doors and walls of public toilets, not on your local news stand.
Why would anyone need to insult a religion is beyond me. But if they want to do so, I would rather be reading, viewing or listening to something less offensive.
But there are those who are compelled to mock and ridicule the ideas they don’t like. 
You can mock politicians for their behavior or policies. You can ridicule a celebrity for the latest fad they are into. Or you can make poignant observations through the medium of cartoons to draw your viewer’s attention to a controversial subject. And there are no limits to what you want to express. From the sublime to the blasphemous, you can do what you like. As a viewer or a reader, I can choose not to read or view such works. As a Muslim, this is what Quran tells me to do.
I will be very curious to learn the views of certain Imams of mosques of various denominations in the UK on this subject. I suspect that a majority of them would rather not express themselves honestly in the media. The truth is very uncomfortable to both these Imams and those politicians who go to them begging for votes every election season.
Most orthodox Muslim scholars do support very draconian punishments for the act of blasphemy. 
This has to change. Quran does not consider blasphemy as a crime. It is a sin of course, the punishment of which if not repented, will be in the afterlife.
But if you look at certain interpretations of some well-known scholars, and you will be surprised that their opinions contradict the Quran.
Mufti Obaidullah Qasmi of Darul Uloom Deoband  writes
‘The death punishment assigned for blasphemy is agreed by all Islamic scholars of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah and, is normally covered in Kitabul Hudud in Islamic juridical texts’.
Deoband school of though is followed by a large number of Muslims from the Indian sub-continent.
The more ‘moderate’ Barelvi sect which makes up a large proportion of the Immigrant Pakistani Diaspora in Britain is no different.
Sadanand Dhume of the Wallstreet Journal observes in a recent news report
‘ Clerics from Pakistan’s majority Barelvi stream of Islam—widely regarded as more tolerant than the rival Deobandi school associated with the Taliban—are among the loudest defenders of the country’s blasphemy laws.’
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws condemn the accused to death by hanging.
Same is true for the wide range of Sunni and Shia sects which have sway over the Muslim world.
Such interpretations of Quran which ignore its actual content but rely on the various medieval interpretations imposed upon it through the centuries have to be rejected. Ahmadiyya Muslim movement has denounced such notions of violence in the name of religion for many decades now. And it is heartening to see more and more Muslims coming closer to our way of understanding the Quran.
I am happy that our Muslim friends will stand up and condemn this horrendous and murderous attack, but please also ask the Imams and clerics in your mosques to denounce the ideas of punishments for blasphemy and apostasy in their Friday sermons.
For Muslims, this is another opportunity to think and question their faith leaders. This menace and hatred ISIS and Al-Qaeda have manifested in their extreme acts may need to be rooted out form their own mosques and homes first.


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